Everything is a track (especially a bone) For a recent Discovery staff session—one of those sideways-rainy days when you still…
Bob Armstrong’s nursing-fawn photo on right sums up the defining talent of mammals: warm-blooded, hairy milk-producers. (Well, I guess we guys can only lay claim to the first 2 attributes.)
In Discovery’s Nature Studies program, pioneered at Harborview Elementary, mammals were front-&-center right out of the gate. That was partly because, in writing the first edition of Nature of Southeast Alaska, 1992, my then-senior-authors Rita O’Clair and Bob Armstrong—strongly grounded in plants, inverts, birds and fish—assigned me the mammals and habitats sections. Cathy Pohl and I concurrently wrote and illustrated dozens of mammal-related teacher materials for projects such as the Jordan Creek Curriculum.
In following decades, as my pen&ink creations transitioned more toward photography and GIS , those old materials gathered dust. But this winter (2021-22), they’re getting a facelift. Discovery staff are resurrecting our traditional pairing of bones-&-tracks, a natural and mutually reinforcing combination for winter Nature Studies.
This mammal family tree is an example. Based on more generic trees for North America, I largely winnowed out non Southeast-Alaskan branches as they climbed through the Age of Mammals (Cenozoic). Understanding evolutionary relationships is helpful when comparing, say, weasel to wolverine skulls—or when puzzling over similarities in mouse and marmot gait patterns.
For the use of our naturalists, and for anyone wishing to dig deeper into local mammals, I’ve compiled those 1990s resources, along with some fun newer stuff, into a downloadable document on Mammals of Lingít Aaní.
Not counting marine mammals, we have 57 known species in Southeast Alaska. No attempt is made here in JuneauNature to describe or even list them all. A comprehensive introduction is in the massively updated Mammals section of The Nature of Southeast Alaska (Carstensen, Armstrong & O’Clair, 3rd ed, 2014, linked above). A more exhaustive technical treatment with range maps is in MacDonald & Cook’s 2007 Mammals and Amphibians of Southeast Alaska.
In this section
Resources from Discovery’s early days In winter 2021-22, we’re pulling together materials for our Nature Studies naturalists, for units on…2022 | Richard Carstensen | 23 pages
Powerpoint & script for winter Nature Studies Discovery’s winter unit on tracking and sign interpretation (largely on mammals but also…1990 | Richard Carstensen | powerpoint & script
Tips and tools from a versatile naturalist-photographer My buddy Bob Armstrong has experimented with a broad range of cameras for…2020 | Bob Armstrong | 43 pages
Under the snow The third issue of Discoveries has a feature article by Kathy Hocker on animal adaptations to the…1996 winter | Kathy Hocker & Richard Carstensen | 6 pages
Filmed all these clips in less than 2 hours at Mendenhall Visitor Center today. Never would have guessed what a…2017 | Richard Carstensen | 3 minutes
Short video clip of a shrew—either Sorex cinereus or monticolus—sole Southeast genus in the order Soricomorpha. In July, 2012, hikers…2012 | Richard Carstensen | 23 seconds
Report to the Southeast Alaska Land Trust on habitats and wildlife use of glacially-rebounding valleys from 25 to 28-mile Glacier…2003 | Richard Carstensen & Kathy Hocker | 35 pages