Skip directly to content

Minimize RSR Award Detail

Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:University of Alaska Southeast Juneau Campus
  • Heidi C Pearson
  • (907) 796-6271
  • Michael S Stekoll
  • Brian Vander Naald
Award Date:07/12/2016
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 479,116
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 479,116
  • FY 2016=$479,116
Start Date:08/01/2016
End Date:07/31/2021
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.050
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Coastal SEES Collaborative Research: Apex predators, ecosystems and community sustainability (APECS) in coastal Alaska
Federal Award ID Number:1600049
DUNS ID:036674794
Parent DUNS ID:048679567
Program:SEES Coastal
Program Officer:
  • Baris Uz
  • (703) 292-4557

Awardee Location

Street:11066 Auke Lake Way
Awardee Cong. District:00

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Alaska Southeast Juneau Campus
Street:11120 Glacier Hwy
Cong. District:00

Abstract at Time of Award

Humans have a long history of controlling or hunting predators which has resulted in many of these animal populations being classified as threatened, endangered or extinct. Recent reintroduction of some species allows for an examination of their role in the ecosystem, potential for conflict with humans, and possible strategies for future coexistence of humans and predators. This project will use sea otters in Southeast Alaska as a model system, combining ecology, economics, and Alaskan Native traditional knowledge to learn more about the role of marine predators in coastal sustainability. Between the mid-1700s and 1900, sea otters were hunted to extinction in Southeast Alaska for their highly valuable fur. In the 1960s, these animals were reintroduced in the region, and their population has grown from roughly 400 to more than 25,000 individuals. The recovery of sea otters in Southeast Alaska provides an opportunity to understand their ecological role in coastal ecosystems, while simultaneously evaluating their interactions with people who depend on coastal resources for their livelihood. Because otters eat shellfish, fishermen and people who harvest shellfish have growing concerns that the increase in sea otters is affecting their livelihood and food resources. At the same time, hunting pressure on sea otters has intensified from coastal Alaskan Natives who can legally harvest sea otters for their fur. The project will involve collaboration with Alaska Native communities and elders. In addition, it will support a team of scientists that includes undergraduate researchers, graduate students, two postdoctoral scholars, and two junior faculty members. One of the graduate students is from a group underrepresented in science, and the investigators plan to build on their track record of recruiting and retaining students from programs for Alaskan Natives. The objective of this project is to document the role of apex predators and environmental drivers on changes in nearshore marine resources, ecosystems, and humans using an interdisciplinary approach that integrates ecological studies, traditional knowledge interviews, and ecosystem services quantification and valuation. This research examines changes in the marine environment over a period of time in which sea otters were extinct and then recolonized. The absence and then expansion of sea otters into different areas over time allows for a space-for-time substitution in which the longer-term effects of sea otters can be seen in areas occupied longer. Analyses of historical data provide an opportunity to describe changes in kelp distribution and abundance and subsistence harvests over the last 30-100 years. Quantification and valuation of ecosystem services from sea otters, including seagrass, kelp, and fish, will provide information on the potential benefits of sea otter recolonization. The integration of ecological, anthropological and economic approaches will lead to a better understanding of the reciprocal feedbacks between humans, apex predators and environmental drivers. Collaborations with Alaska Native communities throughout the project include consultation with community members and tribal elders about project goals and results, with the ultimate goal of informing resource management to improve the sustainability of rural coastal communities and nearshore ecosystems.

Publications Produced as a Result of this Research

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

Bell, T., J. Allen, K. Cavanaugh, D. Siegel "Three decades of variability in California?s giant kelp forests from the Landsat satellites" Remote Sensing of Environment, v., 2018, p.. doi:10.1016/j.rse.2018.06.039 

Bell, T., J. Allen, K. Cavanaugh, D. Siegel "Three decades of variability in California?s giant kelp forests from the Landsat satellites" Remote Sensing of Environment, v., 2018, p.. doi: 

Vander Naald, B "Examining tourist preferences to slow glacier loss: evidence from Alaska" Tourism Recreation Research, v., 2019, p.. doi:10.1080/02508281.2019.1606978 

For specific questions or comments about this information including the NSF Project Outcomes Report, contact us.