Unified Interior Regions

Region 11: Alaska

Alaska Science Center

Alaska Science Center

4210 University Drive
Anchorage, AK 99508
Phone: (907) 786-7000

View Center Website

Volcano Science Center

Volcano Science Center

4230 University Drive
Anchorage, AK 99508
Phone: (907) 786-7497

View Center Website

Climate Adaptation Science Center

Climate Adaptation Science Center

4230 University Drive
Anchorage, AK 99508
Phone: 907-301-7830

View Center Website

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USGS in Alaska engages approximately 400 scientists and support staff working across 3 major centers with a combined annual science budget of about $65 million. In just the last 5 years, USGS in Alaska has produced scientific benefits resulting from over 1000 publications and about 250 Technical Reports.

USGS publications for Alaska

Alaska Science Portal

AK CASC Projects

Alaska Volcano Observatory  

Filter Total Items: 180
A Black-capped Chickadee with a severely deformed beak where the upper beak is elongated and curved down while the lower beak is
Date Published: August 21, 2018
Status: Active

Background of Beak Deformity Research

Large numbers of Black-capped Chickadees with abnormal beaks were reported in south-central Alaska in the late 1990s.  More recently, similar beak deformities have appeared in other species throughout the state. At least 30 Alaskan bird species are affected and the geographic extent of the problem appears to be growing.  In addition to Alaskan observations, we have received increasing numbers...

John Reed (USGS scientist) holding a gull marked with a satellite transmitter at the Soldotna landfill in June 2016
Date Published: August 21, 2018
Status: Active

Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria in Migratory Birds

Migratory birds, and particularly those using habitats close to human settlements, may be infected with antibiotic resistant bacteria.  The USGS is working with public health professionals to understand the role of birds in the maintenance and dispersal of antibiotic resistant bacteria.  Additionally, the USGS is investigating how antibiotic resistant bacteria in birds may relate to public and...

A solitary tree trunk stands amongst the devastation of the 2011 fire in Great Dismal Swamp, VA.
Date Published: August 20, 2018
Status: Active

Wetlands in the Quaternary Project

Wetlands accumulate organic-rich sediment or peat stratigraphically, making them great archives of past environmental change. Wetlands also act as hydrologic buffers on the landscape and are important to global biogeochemical cycling. This project uses wetland archives from a range of environments to better understand how vegetation, hydrology, and hydroclimate has changed on decadal to multi-...

A Black-capped Chickadee with a beak that has grown long and curved down
Date Published: August 20, 2018
Status: Active

Species Affected by Beak Deformities

At least 30 Alaskan bird species are affected and the geographic extent of the problem appears to be growing.  In addition to Alaskan observations, we have received increasing numbers of reports from other parts of North America and Europe.

Small bird with a crossed beak on a branch
Date Published: August 19, 2018
Status: Active

Physical Description of Beak Deformities

The most commonly observed physical abnormalities among Alaskan birds are overgrown or crossed beaks.  The severity of the deformities varies, ranging from a nearly indiscernible “overbite” to beaks that are more than double their normal length.  The upper and lower parts of the beak are also frequently crossed or gapped.

A small bird in a tree with a really curved beak
Date Published: August 18, 2018
Status: Active

Prevalence, Distribution and Timing of Beak Deformities in Birds

The rates of beak deformities documented in Black-capped Chickadees and Northwestern Crows in Alaska are the highest ever recorded within a wild bird population anywhere.

Small bird with long beak
Date Published: August 17, 2018
Status: Active

Beak Deformity's Effects on Birds

Birds with beak deformities often have difficulty foraging and preening, and may not be able to keep themselves warm and well-fed during cold winter months.  Although some birds with beak deformities breed successfully, they typically encounter more challenges than normal birds.

A little gray bird
Date Published: August 16, 2018
Status: Active

Possible Causes for Beak Deformities

Beak deformities can be caused by a variety of factors, including contaminants, nutritional deficiencies, disease, parasites, blunt trauma, or genetic abnormalities. We recently identified a novel picornavirus (Poecivirus) in Black-capped Chickadees with avian keratin disorder (AKD). Our results suggest that Poecivirus is the most likely factor responsible for beak deformities in Alaskan birds...

A Black-capped Chickadee with a beak that has grown long and crossed
Date Published: August 15, 2018
Status: Active

Literature Cited for Beak Deformities

Literature Cited in the Beak Deformity web pages

A Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler with a deformed beak sitting in a tree in Cape May, New Jersey
Date Published: August 14, 2018
Status: Active

Links Related to Beak Deformity Research

Links, videos and news articles related to beak deformity research

Caribou grazing near the Dalton Highway in the northern part of Alaska.
Date Published: August 13, 2018
Status: Active

Changing Arctic Ecosystems

The USGS Changing Arctic Ecosystems Initiative will enhance the long-term science foundation needed by the U.S. Department of the Interior and other partners.

A Yellow-billed Loon swimming in a small lake
Date Published: August 10, 2018
Status: Active

Loon Research

Scientists at the USGS Alaska Science Center have conducted research on Alaska’s three loon species since the late 1970s. Loons rely on freshwater lakes for nesting habitat and fish and invertebrates inhabiting lakes and marine ecosystems for food. All three loon species in Alaska occur within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) on Alaska’s northern coast. Research by the USGS is...

Filter Total Items: 2,374
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Year Published: 2019

DNA Sequencing confirms Tundra Bean Goose (Anser serrirostris serrirostris) occurrence in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley in Arkansas, USA

—First sighting records of rare occurrences may become increasingly important for recognizing changes in distribution, changes in migratory strategies, or increases in hybridization. We focumented the first record of a Tundra Bean Goose in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley, the outlet and historic floodplain for much of North America and one of the...

Osborne, Douglas C.; Wilson, Robert E.; Carlson, Lindsay; Sonsthagen, Sarah A.; Talbot, Sandra L.

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Year Published: 2019

Factors promoting the recolonization of Oahu, Hawaii, by Bristle-thighed Curlews

Suitable habitat for Arctic-breeding migratory shorebirds is decreasing at their traditional wintering islands and atolls in the Central Pacific Flyway (i.e., Oceania) due to habitat degradation, reclamation, and sea-level rise. To maintain the size and resiliency of their populations, migratory shorebirds will need to expand their winter ranges...

Tibbitts, Lee; Ruthrauff, Daniel R.; Underwood, Jared G.; Patil, Vijay P.

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Year Published: 2019

Reference intervals for blood-based biochemical analytes of southern Beaufort Sea polar bears

Accurate reference intervals (RI) for commonly measured blood-based analytes are essential for health monitoring programs. Baseline values for a panel of analytes can be used to monitor physiologic and pathophysiologic processes such as organ function, electrolyte balance, and protein catabolism. Our reference population includes 651 serum...

Fry, Tricia; Friedrichs, Kristen R.; Atwood, Todd C.; Duncan, Colleen G.; Simac, Kristin S.; Goldberg, Tony

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Year Published: 2019

Evaluation of maternal penning to improve calf survival in the Chisana Caribou Herd

Predation is a major limiting factor for most small sedentary caribou (Rangifer tarandus) populations, particularly those that are threatened or endangered across the southern extent of the species’ range. Thus, reducing predation impacts is often a management goal for improving the status of small caribou populations, and lethal predator removal...

Adams, Layne G.; Farnell, Richard G.; Oakley, Michelle P.; Jung, Thomas; Larocque, Lorne; Lortie, Grant; McLelland, Jamie; Reid, Mason; Roffler, Gretchen H.; Russell, Don

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Year Published: 2019

Alaska Geochemical Database Version 3.0 (AGDB3)—Including “Best Value” Data Compilations for Rock, Sediment, Soil, Mineral, and Concentrate Sample Media

The Alaska Geochemical Database Version 3.0 (AGDB3) contains new geochemical data compilations in which each geologic material sample has one “best value” determination for each analyzed species, greatly improving speed and efficiency of use. Like the Alaska Geochemical Database Version 2.0 before it, the AGDB3 was created and designed to compile...

Granitto, Matthew; Wang, Bronwen; Shew, Nora B.; Karl, Susan M.; Labay, Keith A.; Werdon, Melanie B.; Seitz, Susan S.; Hoppe, John E.