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> Tuesday, June 20th, 2006, Lichen Hike
post Jun 22 2006, 12:23 AM
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On Tuesday, June 20th, we awakened to another beautiful day in the Arctic. The temperature was in the sixties. In the Arctic, the weather can change drastically so you must be prepared with all types of clothing in your backpack.

We spent the morning weeding plots for an experiment conducted by the University of Alaska. When you weed, you are removing certain plants from certain staked plots. My job today was removal of betula. There is a picture of me weeding below. During my weeding, I was warm not needing a coat. Then, it started to rain so I placed on my Gore-Tex clothing to stay dry. Then, it started to hail. Scientists never let weather stop them, but I am not a scientist so I trudged down the hill after three hours of weeding and inclement weather. smile.gif
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In the afternoon, we completed lab work. The picture below shows Hanna and Caitlin measuring the biomass of soil. Biomass is the total weight of living organisms. I placed coverings over the beakers then placed the beakers in the lab refrigerator for them.
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After dinner, we visited the Toolik Community Center which is basically a large weatherport (tent) to hear a lecture from guest speaker, Roger Kaye. Mr. Kaye is the Manager of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or ANWR. ANWR has been in the news a great deal, because billions of gallons of oil could be hidden under the surface of the wildlife refuge. The title of the talk was called “The Last Great Wilderness: The Campaign to Establish the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge”. It was a very informative talk. ANWR covers nine million acres of the most beautiful land. It is twice the size of Yellowstone National Park.
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After the talk, Hanna took me on a “Lichen Hike”. We discovered all types of lichens. Lichen is defined as an organism consisting of an outer fungal body. My favorite lichens we found are pictured below. They are called Reindeer Lichen and Deadman’s Finger Lichen. Look closely at the pictures to see why.
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Reindeer Lichen

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Deadman's Finger Lichen

We spotted ptarmigan eggs as well. There was an entire nest of eggs scattered in all directions. We deducted that an Arctic fox invaded the nest. Ptarmigan is the Alaskan state bird. The eggs are absolutely spectacular in color and design! The following picture shows two eggs near the former nest.
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I enjoyed another fantastic day of science exploration in the Arctic against the most beautiful backdrop one could ask for – The Brooks Mountain Range.

Quick facts about Alaska:

Matthew Henson was the first African American to explore the Arctic.

The World Eskimo-Indian Olympics are held in Fairbanks each year.

Polar bears may be turning to cannibalism in response to nutritional stresses related to longer ice free seasons.

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