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> Arctic Tundra Ecosystems: Toolik Lake, Alaska

Arctic Ground Squirrel


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Description: Arctic ground squirrels are the only known mammal capable of lowering its body temperature to below freezing. They are primarily herbivores. They hibernate for seven months. The Inuit name for Arctic
ground squirrel is sik-sik.

Toolik Lake as of June...


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Description: When we arrived, the entire Toolik Lake was covered in ice. After the rain last night, it is partially covered in ice.

"Litter Bags"


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Description: Caitlin, Jennie, and Charmagne are in the lab assembling litter bags. The litter bags contain leaves from various plants. They will be buried in a garden plot for five years to study decomposition rates.

Root system of a tree


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Description: Trees growing on permafrost (frozen ground under the tundra) cannot grow roots down because the ground is frozen solid. The roots of the trees spread out flat in all directions. I took this picture of a tree damaged by the wildfires that spread across ten million acres in 2003 and 2004. Look at the root system.

Bear-proof trash cans


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Description: I guess bears are so smart that we need special trash cans so they cannot open them. The lids cannot be opened without sticking your hand under the handle then releasing a lever. It would be too easy for a bear if they opened like a normal lid.

Rain approaching


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Description: I thought this was a really awesome picture of rain approaching us on our drive. It looked like a curtain.

Flying over beautiful ...


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Description: On my way from Minneapolis to Anchorage, I snapped a picture of the gorgeous clouds. They look like gigantic cotton balls tossed around in the sky.

Farthest spruce tree n...


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Description: There is a sign in Alaska that shows the last spruce tree you will see before entering the Arctic tundra. Arctic tundra is basically low lying grasses and shrubs.

Yukon River


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Description: The picture is of the famous Yukon River. I immediately think of the 1898 Gold Rush when I think of this huge river.

Arctic Circle sign


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Description: Michelle Mack (left), ecologist from the University of Florida, and I (right) standing by the sign that welcomes visitors to the Arctic Circle.

Our research truck


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Description: I wanted to show you the picture of our research truck. It is really dirty, because the Dalton Highway is dusty and muddy at times. The researchers have lovingly named the truck Wedgie the Whale. Since it is a blue Ford F250, the color of blue reminded the researchers of Wedgewood Blue. The truck is so large so whale became part of the name as well - Wedgie the Whale.

Brooks Mountain Range


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Description: When we crossed Atigun Pass through the Brooks Mountain Range, we were 4,739 feet above sea level. As you travel over the pass, you cross the Continental Divide. The Continental Divide is elevated terrain which forms a border between two watersheds.

A rainbow in the Brook...


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Description: This is a picture of the most beautiful rainbow. We were at the bottom of Atigun Pass of the Brooks Mountain Range. You could see all six colors perfectly.

A section of the Trans...


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Description: The pipeline is an amazing engineering wonder. They even allowed for areas for the caribou to cross under the pipeline.

My view of the Dalton ...


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Description: I sat in the back seat of a double cab Ford F250 truck all the way up the Dalton Highway. This was my view looking out the front window.

Reindeer at the Univer...


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Reindeer roaming at the farm owned by the University of Alaska

University of Alaska F...


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We walked from ARCUS to the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Test Picture


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Description: My new friends at ARCUS!

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