The abundantly peculiar Arctic ground squirrel

Posted 19 September 2014 by Liz O'Connell

They survive colder core body temperatures than any other known vertebrate, sustaining a temperature below freezing yet not becoming frozen. They emerge from hibernation with clock-like accuracy ... Read more

Arctic ground squirrel videos

Posted 10 September 2014 by Liz O'Connell

Arctic ground squirrel / FrontierScientists footage

Arctic Ground Squirrel Videos The extraordinary life of the Arctic ground squirrel is described by dedicated scientists who study the handsome creatures. In videos: The Perfect Yuppie Pet, In the Field, In the Lab, And the Circadian Clock, the scientists reflect on questions about the Arctic ground squirrel and its unusual lifestyle. Discover what makes these animals so unique by hearing the scientists' newfound insights. In these videos Professor Loren Buck of University Alaska Anchorage, Professor Brian Barnes of University... Read more

Beating hearts in Denali

Posted 3 September 2014 by Liz O'Connell

“It never ceases to amaze me. No matter what the conditions are, what time of year it is, the place still awes me.” ~ Patricia Owen, wildlife biologist, Denali National Park & Preserve Cold nights have prompted the Denali landscape to turn colors; reds and purples are spectacular tundra accents spread across the wild vista. We’re at Denali National Park & Preserve meeting park rangers and scientists; searching for bears. While park visitor numbers are usually calculated to number about... Read more

On the back of the beast

Posted 27 August 2014 by Liz O'Connell


We’ve joined scientists atop a frozen debris lobe, a slow-moving landslide in permafrost. They say we’re ‘on the back of the beast’. In the heavy rain and among fog-shrouded mountains, the scientists are making these uphill treks to record how temperature, water pressure, and local geological properties determine the slope movement of the massive lobes. These repeat measurements obtained at incredible accuracy can one day help us decode the secrets of the many massive frozen debris lobes (FDLs) currently approaching... Read more

The merits of plasticity

Posted 14 August 2014 by Liz O'Connell

Whether a species thrives or flags can have resounding consequences. When we think of our changing world, we imagine an ecosystem occupied by organisms which are interlinked. ... Read more

Biological clocks: Where arctic ground squirrels meet ‘social jet lag’

Posted 6 August 2014 by Liz O'Connell

An arctic ground squirrel being weighed in a research lab. / Image Erin Hooley, University of Alaska Anchorage Office of Advancement

Arctic ground squirrels may seem like little more than a brief thrill for your dog on a hike up Flat Top, but scientists are convinced they’re worth a serious second look. ... Read more

When your only highways are ice

Posted 30 July 2014 by Liz O'Connell

River-edge ice / 2007 snowmobile expedition footage

“The first half of the trip was in the forest and the second half on the tundra. The difference that those ecosystems imposed on the snow cover was beautifully manifest,” Matthew Sturm reminisces. He’s referencing a long snowmobile journey from Fairbanks, Alaska to Hudson Bay in Canada, chronicled in his book Finding the Arctic (University of Alaska Press, 2012). But where you or I might notice the old gnarled trees of the forest or the howling wind over vast open... Read more

Matthew Sturm – insight into the Arctic

Posted 23 July 2014 by Liz O'Connell

Driving snowmobiles / 2007 expedition footage" width="569" height="460" /> Driving snowmobiles / 2007 snowmobile expedition footage

Over four decades after entering the Arctic Circle for the first time, Matthew Sturm, snow scientist and University of Alaska professor, still looks on the Arctic as a place of wonder. In Finding the Arctic (University of Alaska Press, 2012), a story of history and culture along a 2,500 mile snowmobile journey from Alaska to Hudson’s Bay, Matthew Sturm tackles an epic path across Alaska and Canada. ... Read more

Arctic ground squirrel chronobiology; Wake up, guys, my biological clock says it’s…spring?

Posted 10 July 2014 by Liz O'Connell

Hibernating arctic ground squirrels can lower their core body temperature to minus 3 degrees Celcius. / Image Erin Hooley, University of Alaska Anchorage Office of Advancement

Biology major Brady Salli spends seven days a week in the vivarium making sure UAA’s arctic ground squirrels are fed, watered and, for those that are hibernating, tucked snugly into clean cotton batting. The kicker? He has to maintain a random schedule so the animals don’t “cheat” off of him. Professor Loren Buck, Department of Biological Sciences, is Brady’s mentor and boss. He is leading a team of researchers in a four-year National Science Foundation (NSF) grant-funded study of the... Read more

Fitness for birds in warming Alaska

Posted 3 July 2014 by Liz O'Connell

Lapland Longspur female with Ptarmigan feather to use in nest building / FrontierScientists footage

Jonathan Perez stands in a remote part of Alaska’s North Slope while White-Crowned Sparrows sing from surrounding shrubs and a Jaeger flies overhead, calling. Perez is listening to the bird calls, recording what species sound out and how many individuals are singing. Next to him, an automated device is attempting to do the same. ... Read more