Tristin here, greetings from the Aleutian Archipelago!
This week we embarked on our lab’s second voyage to the Aleutian Archipelago to study patterns of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning along the island chain! Our lab was granted NSF (National Science Foundation) funding for a two-year study how biodiversity and ecosystem production have changed following wide-spread kelp loss. We are focusing on three habitat types: Kelp forests, Urchin Barrens, and areas that are in transition between the two. Last year, we traveled from Adak (center of the Aleutian Island chain) towards mainland Alaska. That 21-day cruise on the R/V Oceanus covered a 444-mile expanse, and we surveyed six islands. For a more information on our research goals, and history of the project scroll down to the “Welcome to the Aleutian Islands Blog 2016” at the bottom of this page.
This year, we will expand on the work we did last year and sample the far western Aleutians including the islands: Amchitka, Kiska, Attu, Agattu, and Shemya. The furthest of the islands is Attu (see image), and to put it in perspective, Attu is 1,100 miles from mainland Alaska… and ~450 miles to Russian territory. As a side-note and interesting fact, during WWII, Attu was the only battle fought on American soil.
The expanse of our trip this year will lake us west from Adak to Attu, then back east where we will end our cruise in Dutch Harbor, AK. Team Edwards (Dr. Matt Edwards, Dr. Ju-Houng Kim, Scott Gabara, Tristin McHugh, Sadie Small, Pike Spector and Genoa Sullaway) is back in action, and we are ready for another amazing adventure. Stay tuned for more updates on our research activities over the next couple of weeks!