southeast alaska wilderness exploration, analysis & discovery

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updated - 5/23/2006

alaska wildlife ecology is a heuristic semiosis of animal signWhat makes SEAWEAD’s projects unique is our focus on high resolution data (resolution=information/unit area). Existing data for Southeast tends to be rather coarse and is often inadequate to answer important fine scale questions or inform on the ground management decisions. That's where we shine. We utilize Global Information System (GIS) tools to assess information needs, streamline data collection, organize and synthesize the collected data, conduct spatial analysis, and create maps for site and/or species specific education and planning efforts.


the region we work inSEAWEAD founded its research, monitoring and natural history efforts on the marine and terrestrial ecosystems of Northern Chichagof Island, specifically at Point Adolphus and Mud Bay. These sites are located in Icy Strait, just south of Glacier Bay National Park in northern Southeast Alaska.

Since our inception in 1998 we have expanded the geographic scope of our habitat surveys to include sites on Baranof Island, Admiralty Island, Prince of Wales Island, Kuiu Island and the mainland. We have worked on projects that focused on a variety of species and habitats including: Brown Bears, Humpback Whales and other marine mammals, Western Toads, migratory song birds, big tree forests, resident and anadromous fish habitats and post glacial wetland and forest complexes.

watch here for a amphib project slideshowAlthough our core projects have been those associated with brown bears and humpback whales our experiences and interests have been wide ranging. We are passionate about ecological thinking in general and are glad to support any timely research project being conducted in Southeast Alaska.

brown bears

alaskan brown bearOur brown bear studies began with a two year pilot project (summers of 2000 and 2001) on northern Chichagof Island. We developed methods for mapping habitat characteristics (primarily vegetation and anadromous qualities) and signs of use by bears. Bear use was surveyed and monitored through mapping 'perennial' bear sign (trails, habitual mark trees and bedding areas) and 'ephemeral' bear sign (scat, carcasses, bed activity, and digging activity). The purpose of the mapping was to provide ecological context for studying changes in bear behavior when interacting with humans at important feeding areas, and to further our general understanding of brown bear patterns of habitat use.bear trail density correlates to salmon availablity

While working on Baranof Island in 2002 and Admiralty Island in 2003 & 2004 we refined the bear sign mapping techniques and greatly advanced our use of GPS/GIS technology for spatial accuracy and productivity. We have now mapped over 150 miles of bear trails while working on the mainland at Berners Bay and Glacier Bay, and amongst the Alexander Archipelago on Admiralty, Baranof, and Chichagof Islands. Bear trails can tell us a lot about long-term patterns of habitat use. Click on the inset map to take a closer look. Kind of a no-brainer... but an important contribution all the same.

The rapid survey techniques we have developed for brown bear habitat assessments are very effective for answering site specific questions and are readily adaptable to other focal species or habitats.

marine mammals

We held a Point Adolphus Natural History Symposium on May 19th, 2003. It was a great success. We had a group of about 40 folks turn out for the all day event. We all learned and shared a great deal about the humpback whales and marine ecology around Point Adolphus.

Currently the behavioral data from the Point Adolphus Humpback Whale project is being analyzed by Nikki Koehler as part of her master's thesis at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. The final publications from this effort should be available sometime in 2006.

Also in 2003, our lead naturalist was published in an ESRI marine GIS publication. The article focused on the marine survey technique and how we used GIS to show the distributionSoutheast Alaska marine GIS and abundance of marine mammals around Point Adolphus. ESRI editors compiled several articles from marine research conducted around the world and we are honored to have been selected for the publication.

We have completed our analysis and mapping of the 2000 and 2001 Marine Survey data and we have some maps to share with you. This series compares findings from 2000 and 2001. Hot news from this comparison is that we found major (nearly 50%!) declines in both harbor porpoise and harbor seal observations in 2001.

click here to view the photo collections from 3 years of marine mammal research at Point Adolphus. click here to read the marine mammal GIS article published by the ESRI press.

project archives

Most of the materials below are .pdf files. These can be viewed with the free Acrobat Reader program. Please make sure you have version 7 of Acrobat Reader. If you do not, click on the graphic to go get your free copy.

Point Adolphus...

  • click here to read the 1999 report on recreation use around Point Adolphus. (must have the free adobe reader)
  • click here to read a .pdf version of the marine GIS article published in 2002.
  • click here to check out an animation of a 1 hour (compressed to 1 minute) whale and vessel interaction observed at Point Adolphus.

Lake Eva...

  • Brown bear feeding on Cow Parsnipclick here for a description of the Lake Eva Bear Project.
  • click here for a .pdf version of the Bob Christensen's Lake Eva bear habitat use report.
  • click here for a .pdf version of Cheryl Van Dyke's Lake Eva bear and people use report.

Berners Bay...

  • click here for a low resolution (1mb) version of the report on 2003 Berners Bay bear habitat surveys.
  • click here for a high resolution (5mb) version of the report on 2003 Berners Bay bear habitat surveys.

Western Toads in Glacier Bay and Skagway...

Pack Creek Zoological Area...

  • click here to read the PCZA report on brown bear habitat use.
  • click here to view a poster summary presented at the 2005 ESRI conference

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This site is dedicated to the memory of Maggie Wigen.

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