University of Dayton Chautauqua Course


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Chautauqua Course DAY-12


Ecology of South‑Central Alaska



Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alaska Anchorage


June 17-19, 2015 in and near Anchorage, AK                                                         Apply: DAY


Note:   This course is cosponsored by and offered at the University of Alaska Anchorage.  Applications should be sent to the DAY Field Center.  This course has a course fee of $395 (in addition to the $100 application fee), which covers van travel on field trips, and other course-related expenses.  Optional reduced rate lodging will be available to early applicants. See also course DAY-8 on Glaciers just after this one, or DAY-21 on Earthquakes and Tsunamis three days later.


This course is a three‑day field study of plants and animals and their environments in south‑central Alaska.  The area is particularly interesting because of its floristic and habitat diversity: here the coastal rainforest meets the boreal forest and it is a short distance between coastal wetlands and alpine tundra.  The forces shaping the plant and animal communities will be demonstrated on field trips to recent wildfire areas, alpine treeline, tundra, boreal forest, and coastal rainforest sites.


The first day will start with a briefing on the general distribution of topography, physiography, climate, and plant communities of the region. It will be followed by a visit to sub-alpine and alpine communities at Flattop Mountain near Anchorage. In the afternoon of the first day, we will visit bog and boreal forest communities in Bicentennial Park on the eastern outskirts of Anchorage. On the second day, we will travel northeast from Anchorage to Palmer, Alaska to observe and learn about ongoing research and ecology of moose and caribou at the Matanuska Experimental Farm. In the afternoon, we will also visit the Eagle River visitor’s center, and hike on a very easy trail along Eagle River to explore the boreal forest communities, beaver ponds, and riparian communities in the Chugach State Park. On the third day, the group will visit the coastal rainforest near Girdwood, and recently deglaciated landscapes near Whittier on Prince William Sound. Each field trip will require light to moderate hiking. The above schedule may be modified to suit weather and conditions.


Those interested in an optional fourth day can take a commercial trip from Anchorage to Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords National Park with other members of the course on the day following the course.  Details of this trip will be discussed with participants prior to the course.


For college teachers of:  any discipline.  Prerequisites:  an interest in the natural sciences.



Costs for 2015

Application fee: $100

Course fee: $395 [Due in March 2015]

Optional campus lodging: $45 per person per night in a single



Dr. Sveinbjörnsson is a Professor of the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alaska Anchorage.  He teaches courses in plant ecology and ecosystems.  His research involves controls on treeline dynamics and global change as well as the ecology of mosses and lichens.  Dr. Spalinger is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at UAA where he teaches courses in zoology and animal ecology.  His research is primarily in grazing and browsing ecology of mammals.



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University of Dayton Chautauqua Course