Overflow Ice: Dangerous and Vital to Arctic Rivers

I was paddling down the upper Aichilik River in a small packraft. The Aichilik is a small, little-traveled river that flows north out of the eastern Brooks Range and across the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It was mid-June, and the river, normally clear and blue, was running high and murky with snowmelt. My two clients were…

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What Makes a Species? And Why it Matters.

A species should be an easy thing to define. Right? Well, actually no. Not one bit. Species are not always totally separate entities from their brethren. In many cases “species” are more like a gradient blending from one into another, without clear boundaries. As a result, there are ongoing discussions in the scientific world about how we define what does…

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Why Aren’t There Giant Animals Anymore?

Since I moved to Alaska and learned about the state’s Pleistocene history, I’ve bemoaned the absence of the ice-age mega-megafauna. Here in the interior, 20,000 years ago, mammoths, wooly rhinoceros, giant ground sloths, Smilodon, dire wolves, short-faced bears, American lions, and other now sadly absent animals, roamed. While a few ice-age mammals persist (think musk oxen, bison, and moose), most…

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Endemic Birds of the Desert Southwest: Where are They?

If you’ve been following my Facebook or Instagram feeds, you’ll know that I’ve spent the last several weeks road-tripping through the western states of the lower 48. Along the way, we spent some time in the deserts of the Southwest. We spent a few nights each in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Chiricahua Mountains of southeastern Arizona, and Joshua Tree…

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