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Tools for Transformation Funded Proposals

A Field Biology Course in Alaska

College of Ocean & Fishery Sciences, School of Fisheries

The University of Washington and the School of Fisheries in particular are interested in closely connecting undergraduate teaching and research. As one step towards this goal, the School will offer a new course in aquatic ecology, starting in summer 1999, at the Fisheries Research Institute’s field stations in Bristol Bay, Alaska. The goals of the course are to provide a small number of students with direct, hands-on training in the theories and techniques of research in aquatic ecology. They will make use of the well equipped field camps and diverse aquatic environments to give students formal course material (i.e., lectures and instruction manuals) and practical experience in the planning, design, and completion of research projects. Students will have access to the long-term data sets collected at the camps, and will write papers on limnology, fish behavior and population dynamics. Students will enroll for 3 credits of independent study or senior project in fall quarter, to complete projects initiated during the summer.

All students will enroll for 9 credits of FISH 499 in summer quarter and will jointly participate in field and laboratory research at lakes Aleknagik and Iliamna. The course will run for 6 weeks, from 17 July to 29 August. During that time they will receive instruction in limnology, juvenile fish ecology, spawning behavior and life history of adult salmon, population dynamics and fishery management.

Contact: David Armstrong
Professor and Director, School of Fisheries
Allocation: $137,385 (first year)
    92,965 (second year)
$230,350 (total)
Date Funded: February 1999 and January 2000

Progress Report, Alaska Field Ecology Program Summer 2000

Tom Quinn, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
Ray Hilborn, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences
Daniel Schindler Department of Zoology

The 2000 class went very well, with students doing independent projects on fly maggots consuming salmon carcasses, gulls attacking adult salmon, sockeye salmon eating zooplankton, bears eating salmon, and two projects using data from our long-term records on commercial fisheries. The evaluations by the students were very good (median of first 4 items on IAS form = 4.90), two of them (Erin Meehan and Lucy Flynn) gave presentations at the undergraduate research symposium this spring, and we employed several students in the off-season and again this year. We believe the 2000 class was even more successful than the first year because we learned how to pace the work and we shifted some things around between the first and second years. We also put more interim deadlines for the students to keep work on schedule rather than having a panic at the end.

As per our initial proposal we have funded the ongoing activity for the 2001 class using a combination of departmental teaching funds, endowments, Alaska Salmon Program research funding and summer program funds. In the 2001 class (to begin next month) we have an excellent group (more students have been applying for the class each year) and most are already in Alaska working for us prior to the class. We have every expectation that things will go well again.

Progress Report, September 2002

Here is a brief report on the status of the NSF funding to upgrade the University of Washington's field stations in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Despite some delays in purchasing, and further delays from the manufacturer, the building materials were trucked up to Anchorage, and then out to Homer, Alaska. A barge took them to the Alaska Peninsula, where they were trucked over a mountain pass to Iliamna Lake, and then barged again to our camp on Porcupine Island. All site preparation was completed, the bulkhead and dock replaced, and the building constructed by the end of August. Indeed, the students in the undergraduate class were working in the building, and the construction crew sleeping in it before we left. There is still some work to be done, but the building was winterized and we are all delighted with it - it is just what we needed.

We were too busy with construction to host any scientific visitors at Iliamna Lake this year but we already have requests for next year. Our Aleknagik camp benefited from the building paid for by the UW matching funds and NSF money for a new dock, and these were heavily used every day during the three-month field season. We hosted four Japanese scientists and students, three scientists from Washington natural resource agencies, a Scottish graduate student on an international fellowship, two new UW faculty as prospective collaborators, and an undergraduate intern from one of the small Native Alaskan communities. We also participated in a "salmon camp" run by the Bristol Bay Native Association for local children, using our facilities and giving guest lectures. This was all in addition to our undergraduate class, our long-term field program, and various other projects. We are grateful to NSF for this support and are pleased to tell you how useful the facilities improvements have been.

Tools for Transformation Funded Proposals