Thinking like a mountain; biogeography

Cartographers are generally big-picture thinkers. Especially since the advent of GIS (Geographic Information Systems), which interfaces between maps and databases, we can ask increasingly sophisticated questions of our maps. I created the following cartoon of a bear’s landscape movements in collaboration with Kim Titus of the Department of Fish & Game, based upon his studies of telemetered bears. Since that time, wildlife studies have become ever more sophisticated, following, for example, the hourly movements of collared deer through intimately mapped terrain.

The brown bear’s year  1) Emergence Late-March through May. Most dens are in the high country. 2) Spring Bears descend in search of sedges, skunk cabbage, and deer carcasses. Key habitats include south-facing avalanche slopes, fens, and especially tidal marshes. 3) Early summer Breeding season. Until midsummer, bears are dispersed from sea level to alpine ridges. Tidal sedge flats, subalpine meadows, upland forests, and avalanche slopes are the principal foraging habitats. 4) Salmon By mid-July, most bears move into riparian forests and tidal estuaries for pink and chum salmon. Small, shallow reaches areeasiest to fish, claimed by dominant individuals. Some sows with cubs never use the streams. 5) Berries Beginning in mid-September, bears move into high forest and avalanche slopes for currants and devil’s club berries. 6) Denning Pregnant females are entering dens by mid-October, in roots of large trees or natural rock caves. Males are last to enter dens.

The brown bear’s year 1) Emergence Late-March through May. Most dens are in the high country. 2) Spring Bears descend in search of sedges, skunk cabbage, and deer carcasses. Key habitats include south-facing avalanche slopes, fens, and especially tidal marshes. 3) Early summer Breeding season. Until midsummer, bears are dispersed from sea level to alpine ridges. Tidal sedge flats, subalpine meadows, upland forests, and avalanche slopes are the principal foraging habitats. 4) Salmon By mid-July, most bears move into riparian forests and tidal estuaries for pink and chum salmon. Small, shallow reaches areeasiest to fish, claimed by dominant individuals. Some sows with cubs never use the streams. 5) Berries Beginning in mid-September, bears move into high forest and
avalanche slopes for currants and devil’s club berries. 6) Denning Pregnant females are entering dens by mid-October, in roots of large trees or natural rock caves. Males are last to enter dens.

 

Landscape ecology connects the biotic and abiotic. In this case, big trees reflect the distribution of carbonate rocks, which in turn are arrayed according to the position of ancient geological terranes.

Landscape ecology connects the biotic and abiotic. In this case, big trees reflect the distribution of carbonate rocks, which in turn are arrayed according to the position of ancient geological terranes.

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Cowee-Davies Watershed Brochure

This brochure gives you a brief introduction to the natural history of the Cowee Davies watershed.  You’ll find information about forests, fish, Tlingit history, and more.

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Documenting change through repeat photography in Southeast Alaska

This report highlights historical photographs of Southeast Alaska from a variety of archives.  It focuses on repeat photography, the act of retaking historical photos and juxtaposing them with the originals in order to see changes in the land over time.  Not only does this report cover most of Southeast Alaska, it also offers insights into the past and future of photographic documentation.

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Fall 2001 Newsletter, Off Trail

Our Fall 2001 newsletter includes an article by Steve Merli exploring the benefits of going off trail with kids, and an essay by Richard Carstensen on how Southeast Alaska ranks compared to neighboring ecoregions.

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Habitat Use of Amphibians in Northern Southeast Alaska

This is a study of six amphibian species in Southeast Alaska.  In this study you will find detailed information on population numbers and habitats.  You will also find analyses of pond origin types, and amphibian natural history observations.  Amphibian populations are in danger across North America, and this study lays an important foundation for future studies on toads, frogs, salamanders, and newts in Southeast.

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Trail to Herbert Glacier, with dated recessional moraines from the work of Donald Lawrence. Yellow circles show successional stages where we collected fungi in 1984.

Herbert Glacier Trail

The Herbert and neighboring Eagle Glaciers advanced and receded synchronously with the much better known Mendenhall. They’ve always been strenuous hikes, but recession off their floodplains up into rugged hills makes them annually more challenging destinations. Fortunately for those of us with ever gimpier knees, you can now ride much of the way to Herbert Glacier on a bicycle.

Trail to Herbert Glacier, with dated recessional moraines from the work of Donald Lawrence. Yellow circles show successional stages where we collected fungi in 1984.

Trail to Herbert Glacier, with dated recessional moraines from the work of Donald Lawrence. Yellow circles show successional stages where we collected fungi in 1984.

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Hotspots: Bird Survey of Mendenhall Wetlands (April 2002 to May 2003)

This report is the culmination of eighteen bird surveys conducted in the Mendenhall Wetlands, an area widely recognized as an important habitat for migrating birds.  The survey results are complimented by GIS maps, graphs, and extensive habitat descriptions.  Looking towards the future, this report also addresses concerns about habitat use and destruction in the Wetlands.

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Intertidal Animals of Southeast Alaska

$9.00

This laminated Discovery Guide helps you identify some commonly seen animals of Southeast Alaska’s rocky intertidal inside waters. It features an insightful layout, by tidepool depth.  And it’s laminated in case the tide rises too fast.  Go out and explore the tidepools!

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Kaxdigoowu Héen: Three days on clear water

In 2013, Richard Carstensen participated in a 3 day teacher’s conference called Stream: a Pedagogy of Place.  During this “place-based” conference, Carstensen focused on Montana Creek.  This short journal contains his thoughts and observations on the event.

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Montana Creek Interpretive Signs

This three-part sign array offers information on the natural history, geology, and bio-culture of Montana Creek. You can download the three signs below:

Introduction (2.3MB):PDF_Download

Geology (1.5MB):PDF_Download

Bioculture (2.7MB):PDF_Download

 

Amalga

Natural History of Amalga Meadows

This guide to the Amalga Meadows is part of a series by Richard Carstensen on Juneau watersheds. Walk the area as you follow the 11 stations on this guide to learn about the diverse habitats at Amalga Meadows.

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Auke Lake

Natural History of Auke Lake Trail

This guide to the Auke Lake Trail is part of a series by Richard Carstensen on Juneau watersheds.  You’ll learn about the plants, habitat, and geology of the area as you walk along the guide’s eight stations on the trail.

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Gold Creek

Natural History of Gold Creek Watershed

This guide to the Gold Creek Watershed is part of a series by Richard Carstensen on Juneau watersheds.  It explains some of the unique forces influencing the area, from avalanches, to geologic faults, to human development.

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Natural History of Juneau

Natural History of Juneau Trails: A Watershed Approach

$24.00

If you or someone on your gift list enjoys Juneau’s outdoors, this book is for you.  It is packed with information for the hiker, hunter, or any student of the outdoors.  Richard’s insightful text, full color maps, and dozens of recent and historic photographs explain the landforms, water features, and natural environments Juneau residents navigate every day.  Dive in for a whole new understanding of the areas you love to explore, with one of Southeast Alaska’s foremost naturalists.

Montana Creek

Natural History of Montana Creek

This guide to the Montana Creek is part of a series by Richard Carstensen on Juneau watersheds.  A walk along the trail guide’s 11 stations is a lesson in succession, as the river’s twists and turns follow the recent deglaciation and forest growth in the Mendenhall Valley.

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Outer point trail

Natural History of Outer Point Trail

This two page guide to the Outer Point Trail on North Douglas is part of a series by Richard Carstensen on Juneau’s watersheds.  The short walk from North Douglas Highway to the beach transects a surprising diversity of habitat.

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Reading Southeast Alaska's Landscape

Reading Southeast Alaska’s Landscape

$10.00

This book tells the constantly evolving story of geology in our region.  It tracks how bedrock forms, how glaciers wax and wane, and how rivers and the sea shape our land.  While the book offers a general introduction to bedrock and surficial geology, it also focuses in on regional geologic highlights.  It is a must-have for nature enthusiasts in Southeast.

 

 

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Spring 2011 Newsletter, Geology and life: Connections between the living and non-living world

In this newsletter, Richard Carstensen seeks to answer a seemingly simple question: how do living things respond to geologic landforms and rock types?  His essay explores the interactions between living and non-living things in Southeast Alaska.  You will also find Discovery News, and a short write-up by Scott Burton on the popular trail game Camouflage.

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The Mendenhall Wetlands: a globally recognized Important Bird Area

The Mendenhall Wetlands have long been recognized as an important habitat for a large variety of birds.  This book provides an exhaustive picture of this federally recognized “Important Bird Area.”  It begins with a brief history of how the wetlands came to fall under environmental protection, and goes on to describe the birds that call the area home. You’ll also find information on vegetation, mammals, invertebrates, and ecological interactions in the wetlands.  The pages are complimented by wonderful color photographs of birds.

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Wildlife “Out the Road”

This is a report from Richard Carstensen  to the Southeast Alaska Land Trust on habitats and wildlife use of glacially-rebounding valleys from 25 to 28-mile Glacier Highway in Juneau. They call this area “risen valleys,” and in the report you can trace animal use and habitat descriptions for this remarkable portion of Southeast Alaska. This report contains extensive habitat descriptions, photographs, and animal descriptions.

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