Our research aims to better understand shoreline change, learn about community concerns, facilitate student science opportunities, and contribute to a place-based science curriculum in southeast Alaska.
We are using direct measurements, remote sensing, and databases to assess various threatened coastal species in multiple southeast and southcentral Alaskan communities. As part of this multi-faceted project, students are being provided opportunities to engage with community members and help gather information about the communities' use of coastal species, such as clams, eelgrass (crab grass), and beach asparagus, and their concerns about resource availability. Together with an educator at Mt. Edgecombe High School in Sitka, Alaska, and a Youth Science Outreach Coordinator, we are working to synthesize the ideas developed from student involvement in this research to create an evolving, place-based high school science curriculum.
Our research addresses food security concerns in southeast and southcentral Alaskan communities using a four-pronged approach. We are:
The original research project initiated in 2015 was conducted in communities in southeast and southcentral Alaska, including Tatitlek, Chenega, Cordova, Yakutat, Hoonah, Angoon, Petersburg, Hydaburg, Klawock, Kasaan, Kake, Sitka, and Juneau. Initially, we used data from the ShoreZone database along with measured relative sea level changes to project shoreline change 100 years into the future for these six communities. With input from local educators, Tribes, and the Sitka Conservation Society, we identified student interns to lead discussions with community leaders and elders. These discussions enabled us to identify which food resources these communities gathered and havested, as well as their specific concerns about changes in the availability of these natural resources.
Building off the information that was collected from over 200 student discussions with communities and our evaluation of physical coastline change, we initiated a second phase of the project in 2018. This phase of the project is investigating critical eelgrass, clam garden, and beach asparagus sites using a combination of field measurements, mapping, remote sensing apparatus, and information provided from local communities.