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Published on October 3, 2007

Author: Herminia

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Bears, Glaciers, and Mosquitoes: Ecology of Prince William Sound, Alaska Based on Sierra Club trip “Kayaking the Glaciers of Prince William Sound” June 2006:  Bears, Glaciers, and Mosquitoes: Ecology of Prince William Sound, Alaska Based on Sierra Club trip “Kayaking the Glaciers of Prince William Sound” June 2006 Mariann Burright Life Sciences/Chemistry Team December 15, 2006 Bears, Glaciers, and Mosquitoes: Ecology of Prince William Sound, Alaska :  Bears, Glaciers, and Mosquitoes: Ecology of Prince William Sound, Alaska Cultural History: First Alaskans The Baidarka European Exploration American Expeditions Land Rights Alaska:  Alaska Prince William Sound, Southcentral Alaska:  Prince William Sound, Southcentral Alaska Whittier: Passage to the PWS:  Whittier: Passage to the PWS PWS: First Alaskans:  PWS: First Alaskans Human settlements as early as 10,000 years ago. Early settlers came from Asia via the Bering Land Bridge, “Beringia.” Appeared three times as water between Alaska and Siberia froze in successive ice ages. PWS: First Alaskans:  PWS: First Alaskans 4,000 years ago Eskimo groups hunted whales, seals, sea otters. 2,500 years ago, Chugach and Unegkurmiut Eskimos displaced earlier settlers in the Sound. Chugach hunted marine mammals and fish using baidarkas and carried cargo in umiaks. PWS: Baidarka:  PWS: Baidarka Baidarka frame made with spruce and hemlock, preserved with seal or sea lion skins coated with shark liver oil. PWS: European Exploration:  PWS: European Exploration In 1747 Russian Vitus Bering was first Westerner to discover Alaska. In 1778, Capt. James Cook with the Royal British Navy sails into “Sandwich Sound.” By 1793 Russians founded trading post with the Chugach. PWS: American Expeditions:  PWS: American Expeditions 1799-1867 Russian-American company governed PWS, U.S. purchases Alaska in 1867. In 1899, railroad tycoon and philanthropist Edward Harriman takes a scientific expedition to the PWS. U.S. brings salmon canneries, fox farms, gold and copper mining. PWS: Land Rights:  PWS: Land Rights 1907, President Roosevelt creates Chugach National Forest, encompassing all native lands in PWS. 1924, Department of the Interior rules only Congress can sell land. 1936, Congress granted Alaskans right to incorporate villages. 1989, state and federal agencies purchased easements from Alaskan corporations for land preservation after Exxon Valdez spill. By 2010, Chugach Alaska Corporation (CAC) will reach full entitlement to their lands. PWS Natural History:  PWS Natural History Landmass formation Mountain ranges Glaciers Topography & climate Ecosystems PWS Natural History: Alaskan Landmass (How did it get there?):  PWS Natural History: Alaskan Landmass (How did it get there?) Alaska formed by 50 different rock landmasses originating thousands of miles south. West coast of the US forming by plate tectonic action for 200 million years. Chugach landscape still being shaped by geochemical and biological processes. PWS Natural History: Chugach Mountains:  PWS Natural History: Chugach Mountains Chugach is 1 of 39 mountain ranges in Alaska. Second highest range in the state, and highest coastal range worldwide. Highest elevation is 13,176 ft. Approximately 10% of Chugach range is glaciated. PWS Natural History: Chugach Mountains:  PWS Natural History: Chugach Mountains PWS Natural History: Glaciers, Mountain shapers:  PWS Natural History: Glaciers, Mountain shapers PWS Natural History: Glaciers:  PWS Natural History: Glaciers Glaciation is only one process shaping Chugach mountains. Glaciation changes young serrated mountain edges to rounded stooping shapes. Glaciers sculpt mountain ranges by degrading rock surface in northern latitudes. PWS Natural History: Glaciers:  PWS Natural History: Glaciers Glaciers generally classified into warm or cold. Warm glaciers are those where temperature varies little from surface to bottom, form with greater precipitation, not frozen to rocks. Cold glaciers have lower temperatures with depth and are attached to rocks, occur in Antarctica. PWS Natural History: Glaciers in the Sound:  PWS Natural History: Glaciers in the Sound PWS has “waterfront” or tidewater glaciers, they terminate at seawater. Steep terrain of Sound makes them active and fast moving. Moderate sea temperatures cause tidewater glacier melting, cracking, and calving. PWS Natural History: Kayaking tidewater glaciers:  PWS Natural History: Kayaking tidewater glaciers PWS Natural History: yes, the ice is swirling!:  PWS Natural History: yes, the ice is swirling! PWS Natural History: Tidewater glaciers:  PWS Natural History: Tidewater glaciers PWS Natural History: Tidewater glaciers:  PWS Natural History: Tidewater glaciers PWS Natural History: skookumchucks, another effect of glaciers:  PWS Natural History: skookumchucks, another effect of glaciers Water in the PWS is constantly in motion. Currents are generated by ocean tides and freshwater flowing from glaciers. Skookumchucks, or strong tidal currents are created when water encounters a narrow entrance to a large shallow bay. PWS Natural History: skookumchucks:  PWS Natural History: skookumchucks Ewan Bay’s skookumchuck PWS Natural History: Glaciers as habitats:  PWS Natural History: Glaciers as habitats Animal species use glaciers as a niche, where they breed, rest, and feed. Black-legged kittiwakes inhabit rocky cliffs and feed on invertebrates as calving glaciers expose them to predators. Harbor seals gather on floating ice seeking shelter from bears PWS Natural History: Glacial habitats:  PWS Natural History: Glacial habitats PWS Natural History: Chugach Mountains and Climate:  PWS Natural History: Chugach Mountains and Climate Northern latitude and mountainous terrain create local weather conditions In 61 North degrees latitude, sun hits ground at low angle creating less heat Mountains influence air flow on different sides Northwestern warm moist air from Gulf of Alaska is forced up the south side of the mountains, slowing movements of fronts. Most rainfall occurs on the southeast side of the Chugach State Park. PWS Natural History: Ecology:  PWS Natural History: Ecology Ecologists study the structure and function of nature. Structure is the distribution and abundance of naturally occurring species. Function implies processes like energy flow and nutrient cycling through the earth. PWS Natural History: Ecology :  PWS Natural History: Ecology Ecologists divide the world into biomes, or units that reflect similar features of plants, animals, climate PWS Natural History: Ecosystems:  PWS Natural History: Ecosystems Ecosystem: “specific area of the earth and the attendant interactions among organisms and the physical-chemical environment present at the site.” from Ecology Basics. Salem Press, 2004. PWS Natural History: Ecosystems:  PWS Natural History: Ecosystems Ecosystems present in the Sound: Hemlock-spruce Forest, dominant association PWS Natural History: Ecosystems:  PWS Natural History: Ecosystems Hemlock-Spruce Forest Dominant Plants: western hemlock, Sitka spruce, rose, devil’s club, huckleberry, blueberry Dominant Animals: moose, black and brown bear, porcupine, red and northern flying squirrels PWS Natural History: Ursus Americanus (Black Bear):  PWS Natural History: Ursus Americanus (Black Bear) .Grows to 6ft. .Color from cinnamon to dark black .Short claws, good swimmers and climbers .Reclusive in thick forested areas, hunted by humans .Almost strictly vegeterians, but will eat carrion, insects, and fish. Image http://www.americanbear.org/BARAC0033A.jpg PWS Natural History: Smaller predators:  PWS Natural History: Smaller predators Alaska has 27 species of mosquitoes, the Chugach National Forest has 16 of those species. Their larvae are aquatic, feeding on algae, pollen, and dead organic matter. Females bite to obtain blood for egg production. PWS Natural History: Muskeg Bog:  PWS Natural History: Muskeg Bog A type of wetland occurring in a poorly drained area Dominant plants: Sphagnum mosses, sedges, lichens, cranberry, blueberry Animals: muskrat, tundra vole, little brown bat. PWS Natural History: Rocky Intertidal:  PWS Natural History: Rocky Intertidal Dominant Plants: rockweed, lichens, Irish Moss Animals: barnacles, mussels, herring, river otter. PWS Sound: Marine Ecosystem:  PWS Sound: Marine Ecosystem Dominant Plants: Plankton Animals: zooplankton, Harbor Porpoise, Pacific Harbor Seal, Northern Sea Lion, Humpback Whale PWS :  PWS Works Consulted:  Works Consulted Armstrong, Robert H. & Hermans, Marge. Alaska’s Natural Wonders A Guide to the Phenomena of the Far North. Portland, OR. Alaska Northwest Books, 2000. Twardock, Paul. Kayaking & Camping in Prince William Sound. Valdez, AK. Prince William Sound Books, 2004. Zimmerman, Jenny. A Naturalist’s Guide to Chugach State Park. Anchorage, AK. A.T. Publishing and Printing, Inc. 1994. Works Consulted:  Works Consulted The Nature of Alaska An Introduction to Familiar Plants, Animals & Outstanding Natural Attractions. Phoenix, AZ. Waterford Press, 2005. Photo Credits :  Photo Credits Trip Photos: Geoff Johnson Adam Kuenzel. Others: Baidarka: www.shearwater-boats.com Black-legged Kittiwakes: Birds of North America Online Biome map: http://www.marietta.edu/~biol/biomes/biomemap.jpg Ecosystems map of Alaska: The Nature of Alaska. Phoenix, AZ: Waterford Press, 2005. Sitka Spruce: http://www.globalforestscience.org/research/trees_of_Canada/CONIFERS/SPRUCE/SITKASPR.GIF Photo Credits:  Photo Credits Sitka Spruceneedles: http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/forests/local-resources/images/sitkaspruce.gif Western Hemlock forest: http://www.blevinsphoto.com/images/283_15c.jpg Black bear: http://www.americanbear.org/BARAC0033A.jpg Rockweed: http://olympiccoast.noaa.gov/images/bodypic_rockweed_lg.jpg Harbor Porpoise: http://nia.ecsu.edu/ureoms2004/teams/noaa/grfx/porpoise.jpg Humpback Whale tail: http://www.learner.org/jnorth/images/graphics/u-z/hback_tail_CINMS.jpg

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