Eight case studies of obsidian hydration dating in the Koyukuk River region of northwestern interior Alaska are discussed. Historiographic conclusions include recognition of late and early microblade industries, apparent verification of the hypothesis that northern fluted points date within a Paleo-Indian time frame, and validation of a Tuktu-like first millennium A.D. Northern Archaic phase. However, variance in the data and lack of firm hydration rates render the results less precise than is desired. Methodological conclusions have ramifications that should apply throughout the subarctic region and well beyond. These are: 1) Hydration measurements may be unreliable for dating individual specimens; 2) Lack of closely controlled hydration rates or dependence on 14-C dates with large errors for calibration can be crippling; 3) The average of a series of specimens can be used to date components which were formed during a brief period of occupation, though high variance of the data may be disconcerting; 4) Variance was low in one case for specimens all derived from the same piece of raw material, but for dating it may be necessary to find, through induced hydration or other means, the precise hydration rate applicable to each different piece of raw material (from a single component); and 5) Many variables may be responsible for results which render some sample sets unreliable or unusable, especially those from surface sites. Some of these variables require further technical investigation - loss of the hydration layer and recommencement of hydration after exposure to forest and tundra fires, for instance. Other factors are reasonably well understood by researchers, but it would be desirable to have computer simulations of site contexts in order to assess the magnitude, correlations, and cumulative results of their effects.
The sea ice topography of M'Clure Strait in winter and summer of 1960 from submarine profiles
Arctic, v. 37, no. 2, June 1984, p. 110-120, figures, tables
ASTIS record 14159
Submarine profiles of the ice underside in M'Clure Strait were obtained by USS Sargo in February 1960 and by USS Seadragon in August 1960. They gave the first quantitative measurements of the ice draft distribution in the strait and in the nearby Beaufort Sea shelf zone, as well as providing a seasonal comparison of ice conditions within a single year. Analysis of the profiles reveals a region of very high mean ice draft (7.8 m) and heavy ridging off the southwest tip of Prince Patrick Island in winter. Within M'Clure Strait itself the mean ice draft lay in the 4-5 m range and the draft distribution showed that the ice was mainly first-year, as opposed to the mixture of first-and multi-year ice that exists out in the Beaufort Sea. This suggests a local origin for the ice in the strait. Pressure ridges were much more frequent in summer than in winter, as were polynyas. Both the pressure ridge draft distribution (in summer) and the ice draft distribution at great depths (in summer and winter) fitted a negative exponential distribution, in common with other ice profiles which have been analysed.
Luzula confusa is both morphologically and physiologically adapted to the polar semi-desert environment of the western Queen Elizabeth Islands. This species combines the more efficient graminoid photosynthetic system and a less drought-resistant mechanism with some of the cushion plant energy-trapping characteristics such as tufted growth form and persistence of dead leaves, with consequent thicker boundary layer. In this manner, the plant is able to assimilate carbon throughout the 24-hr arctic day. The species utilizes the most favorable part of the growing season by rapid initiation of growth via relatively high photosynthetic rates, especially at low temperatures. This species is very responsive (net assimilation rates) to small changes in leaf temperature and leaf water potential. This permits the species to take advantage of small rises in leaf temperature (leaves normally 5 to 8 degrees C) and to adjust to high VPD and low leaf water potential during the occasional drought. The slow-growing, long-living conservative strategy of this species appears ideally suited to areas that are limited in their vascular plant cover because of rigorous environments. Within the range of habitats available, Luzula confusa predominates in sites of intermediate moisture with abundant cryptogams. It does not occur in the polar deserts with their drier surface soils except in snowflush communities.
Long fire rotation, high levels of precipitation, and acidic nature of the bedrock are factors contributing to the dominance of Sphagnum in many upland and peatland communities in southeastern Labrador. Vegetation development induced by local or regional environmental change frequently involves replacement of species assemblages of various bryophytes and lichens by species assemblages dominated by Sphagnum. In upland forests the successional sequence following fire often culminates in a carpet of Sphagnum girgensohnii overgrowing feather mosses. Similarly, following a change in the water table, Sphagnum lindbergii encroaches as a broad carpet over Cladopodiella fluitans and Gymnocolea inflata on recently exposed mud bottoms in bog hollows. On bog hummocks, following fire or changes in the moisture regime, Sphagnum fuscum overtops Cladonia lichens to form a pronounced recurrence horizon.
Estimates of range composition and net primary productivity for a 10-year period are presented for the semi-arid grasslands of Sheep Mountain, Kluane National Park, Yukon, the winter range of a Dall's sheep (Ovis dalli dalli) population. Estimates varied among plots, depending on altitude and aspect, as well as among years, according to rainfall during the growing season. Extremes were 29.1 g/m² and 120.1 g/m². Over the 10-year assessment period, the vegetative composition did not change nor was there a grazing-related reduction in productivity. Winter range use by about 200 sheep was within the carrying capacity of the range. A 40% utilization rate of the winter range forage can evidently be sustained and provides a stocking rate of about 1.9 sheep-months/ha. A significant correlation is demonstrated between forage production of the winter range, lamb survival the following winter, and lamb production the following spring. This correlation indicates that a form of self-regulation of the sheep population is functioning.
The ecological distribution of small mammals (<200 g) was studied in the foothill tundra of the De Long Mountains in northwestern Alaska. Three species of shrews and five species of microtine rodents were trapped on 15 live-trapping grids during 1978 and 1979. Emphasis was placed on the three most abundant microtine species (Clethrionomys rutilus, Microtus oeconomus and M. gregalis). During late summer up to six species of small mammals were captured per habitat type which ranged from wet meadow through mesic shrubland to dry ridges. Following snowmelt most habitats contained only a single species and some contained none. Only four habitat types were continuously occupied by small mammals during both summers. Species diversity was variable among habitats. Most species of small mammals were captured on eight or fewer of the 15 trapping grids. Only Clethrionomys rutilus was captured on all grids. The number of habitats occupied by Clethrionomys rutilus increased from 4 to 14 as population densities increased. The number of habitats occupied by the other species seemed to be independent of population density. Average population densities for the microtines were low (<15/ha) and, for each species, varied according to habitat type. Only Clethrionomys rutilus populations demonstrated marked intra-annual fluctuations (3/ha to 37/ha).
Observations of habitat use by the Greater Snow Goose (Anser caerulescens atlanticus) were conducted at Jungersen Bay, northern Baffin Island, from 27 July-17 August 1981. Density of geese using the study area was estimated at 425 birds/km². The average of 2.8 young per family did not change during our study. Non-breeding geese were first observed in flight on 1 August and were seen regularly until 13 August. Three types of habitat used by geese during the brood-rearing period were distinguished: tidal marshes dominated by Carex subspathacea and Puccinellia phryganodes; wet moss-covered meadows with up to 5 cm of standing water, dominated by Carex stans, Dupontia fisheri, Calamagrostis neglecta, and Arctagrostis latifolia; and, around ponds, bands of vegetation 1-2 m wide dominated by Carex stans. The three most important species of monocots grazed by geese were Puccinellia phryganodes, Carex subspathacea, and C. stans. It is unlikely that habitat and food resources are limiting factors for Greater Snow Geese in the High Arctic during the brood-rearing period. We suggest that potential breeding areas for this species be identified and given special protection.
Food habits of the Denali (formerly McKinley) herd of barren-ground caribou (Rangifer tarandus granti) were studied during 1978-80 in Denali National Park, Alaska, with emphasis on diets of adult females. Data from fecal analyses, field observations, and forage digestibilities were combined to estimate diets. Spring (late May to July) diets contained primarily Salix leaves (41%), lichens (25%), forbs (16%), and graminoids (12%). Summer (mid-July to mid-August) diets were similar, containing about 46% Salix leaves, 17% lichens, 10% forbs, 10% graminoids, and 12% mushrooms. In contrast, autumn (mid-September to mid-October) diets consisted primarily of lichens (43%) with less proportions of forbs (9%). graminoids (14%), mushrooms (10%), and mosses (5%). Winter (mid-November to early May) diets consisted largely of lichens (62%) and small proportions of Vaccinium vitis-idaea (6%), forbs (7%), graminoids (11%), and mosses (10%).
Stomach contents were examined from a bowhead whale, Balaena mysticetus, killed at Gambell, Alaska, on 1 May 1982. It contained an estimated 20-40 litres of recently ingested prey, principally gammarid amphipods (91.7% of the volume of a 157-ml subsample) and cumaceans (7%). All identified prey were primarily epibenthic forms. The stomach of this whale was significant in several respects: (1) it contained the largest amount of food recorded in any whale taken and examined in spring; (2) it provided the first direct evidence of bowheads feeding in the Bering Sea; and (3) the contents indicated that benthic prey are sometimes intentionally fed upon.
A survey during 1977 found that the Gateshead Island area, Northwest Territories, had 9 confirmed and 10 suspected polar bear dens. The importance of the area for polar bear reproduction was confirmed during a survey in 1982 when 15 dens were found, 10 of which were identified as maternity dens. The area should be protected from human intrusion.
Diatom frustules have been found in small concentrations in a section of ice core from Crete on the Greenland ice cap. ... The statistics are poor and do not allow us to determine the diatom concentration accurately. Based on our measurements, we estimate the average diatom density (n/g) for the 0.6-m section to be 0.1/g. Also because of poor statistics, we have not been able to test whether the diatom number density exhibits seasonal variations, nor have we been able to identify the species or points of origin of the diatoms. We subsequently learned (C. Lorius, pers. comm. 1983; L.G. Thompson, pers. comm. 1983; L.H. Burckle, pers. comm. 1983) that diatoms have been observed in continental Antarctic ice. We know of no similar reports for Greenland ice.
... Davis was not typical of the seagoing adventurers of his age, whether Spanish or English. He indulged in none of their quarrelsome rivalries, and had none of their ravenous greed for wealth and glory. His writing is without the bombast to which some of his contemporaries were addicted. He made no startlingly original discovery: his work was to extend, clarify, and give shape to Frobisher's casual and incoherent observations. The well-informed Luke Foxe credits Davis, not Frobisher, with "lighting Hudson into his strait." His survey of the Labrador from the north nearly overlapped that of Jacques Cartier from the south; in truth, the two of them - oddly, both probably of Welsh descent - had roughly laid down the Canadian seaboard from the Arctic Circle to Gaspe Peninsula and furnished a recognizable outline of our eastern shore.
The first American arctic explorer of note, Elisha Kent Kane was a man of broad interests and varied talents. Although he died when he was only 37 years old, he distinguished himself as a career naval officer, medical doctor, scientist, author, and artist, and his death inspired a funeral procession by train from New Orleans to the home of his birth in Philadelphia. ... Well-travelled prior to his mid-century arctic voyages, Kane had journeyed through South America, Africa, Europe, and the Far East. Small of stature and physically frail as a result of a rheumatic heart, the naval doctor nevertheless sought challenges of physical endurance, which led to his volunteering for the arduous U.S. Polar Expedition in 1850 as ship's surgeon and again in 1853 as leader. ... the serious search for a Northwest Passage had been a predominantly British enterprise. Not until President Zachary Taylor and Henry Grinnell, the wealthy New York shipbuilder, responded to Jane Franklin's appeal for aid in finding her missing husband and his crew did the United States officially enter into the exploration of the Arctic. ... Motivated by humanitarian interests, Congress and Grinnell co-sponsored two searches. Politically, the undertaking allowed the United States to participate with Britain in exploration within the territory of North America. There was a further justification as well. U.S. Navy oceanographers were intrigued with the theory of an Open Polar Sea .... The first voyage gave no evidence of an Open Polar Sea; Kane, undaunted, sought command of another. ... The first voyage had attempted a passage through Lancaster Sound and north into Wellington Channel. The second, under Kane's leadership and including only one ship, sailed due north up the west coast of Greenland to latitude 78°N, where the Advance was icebound and never released. ... By the spring of 1855, after three summers and two winters that proved far harsher and more impoverished than the men's most pessimistic fears, Kane and his crew faced imminent starvation. Consequent unrest and disloyalty, coupled with the belief that they had met their scientific objective of sighting the Open Polar Sea, led Kane to abandon the search for Franklin; he began planning the dangerous escape by small boat and sled. Brilliant organization and meticulous rationing of their remaining supplies proved Kane a leader of great resource, and he led his men to safety and rescue at Upernavik 1300 miles to the south. Kane returned a hero and was soon preparing his second popular account of the Arctic. More ambitious than the first, "Arctic Explorations: The Second Grinnell Expedition in Search of Sir John Franklin, 1853, '54, '55" was extremely successful .... Kane never found Franklin or the Open Polar Sea, but the Grinnell expeditions had made important advances. The first voyage discovered "Grinnell Land" (Grinnell Peninsula) in Wellington Channel, and the second had mapped the narrow passage between Ellesmere Island and the west coast of Greenland to 78°N. ... In spite of his small stature and gentle demenour, Kane stands out in this period of arctic history for this idealism and daring. ... Kane's frail health adds still another dimension to his accomplishments, which he described with considerable aesthetic skill in his journals.
As a committed and effective spokesman in London, England, for the poor indigenous people of mid-nineteenth-century Rupert's Land - that is how Alexander Kennedy Isbister should be remembered by all Canadians and revered by those who were his people. But he is not. ... Church records list Alexander Kennedy Isbister's grandmother on his mother's side as Agatha, an "Indian Women". His grandfather, Alexander Kennedy, hailed from the Orkneys and worked for the Hudson's Bay Company, as did Thomas Isbister, his father. ... As was done with many other offspring of the Company's personnel, young Alexander was sent away for his education: first, at ten the Orkneys for a year or so of schooling and then in 1833 to the Red River settlement for more of the same. ... For the Company, Isbister travelled through the lower part of the Mackenzie Basin. When he left British North America in 1842, barely 20 years old and never to return, he had acquired some valuable firsthand knowledge of the West and the North. More importantly, he had developed both an intense interest in the geology and geography of the land and a consuming compassion for its people. ... Alexander earned his crown by his persistent battle against the injustices he saw being perpetrated by the Company. The battle began when, at age 25, he becamed the trusted representative of petitioners who charged "that the Company impoverished the natives for their own profit". He never came to a halt. In 1871 shareholder A.K. Isbister took up a claim of the Chief Traders and Chief Factors at the General Court of the Hudson's Bay Company. By then he had become the leading authority on all matters affecting British North America. This distinction was not only well earned but also well deserved.
On 12 June 1879, 53-year-old Charles Jesse ("Buffalo)" Jones left Garden City, Kansas, for the Far North to what nobody had done: capture a muskox and bring it back alive to "civilization". Jones was already internationally famous as "The Savior of the American Bison". ... At Fort Smith on the Slave River he was invited by Indians to a council. "The muskox is sacred to us", they warned. "If you take muskox away, it will offend the Great Spirit. All our game will leave!". ... He wanted muskoxen for study and use as well as display. He might even hybridize them with cattle. He advised the Indians to domesticate and propagate muskox as ordained by the Great Spirit in the White Man's Bible; then they would never starve. The Chippewas, Crees, and Slaves who comprised the council left planning how to thwart Jones. [The Indians cut the throats of the five muskoxen calves that Jones was able to capture.] Undismayed, he returned home via the Mackenzie River and Yukon gold camps, inspecting an island in the Bering Sea with a view to establishing a breeding farm for silver foxes. ... In 1902 President Theodore Roosevelt named him first game warden of the newly created Yellowstone Park. Poachers were decimating the park's wildlife. Roosevelt wanted someone who could stop them; Jones did. Soon he introduced Zane Grey to the West by taking him on a trip to lasso lions in Arizona. Grey, impressed, decided to make the West the subject of his writing and to pattern his heroes on Jones. ... The New York Times for 2 October 1919 said: "Charles Jesse Jones, known throughout America as 'Buffalo Jones', famous cowboy and big game hunter and friend of the late former President Theodore Roosevelt, died today". The lengthy obituary failed to say that Jones was the first, great and highly original preserver-user of North American wildlife.
... John Hornby was 23 years old when he came to Canada from England in 1904. From then until his death 22 years later, he pursued a lifestyle uncomplicated by long-range goals and plans. ... Hornby went north to the Great Bear Lake region with Cosmo Melville on a trading expedition in 1908. Fascination for the country was immediate, intense, and so strong that except for occasional trips to Edmonton, England, and service in the First Great War, he was to spend the rest of his life in the Barren Ground and the adjacent "land of the little sticks". ... Hornby's practice of living off the land with an absolute minimum of food staples and equipment was irrevocably confirmed over the next few years. ... in 1926 with two inexperienced companions ... Hornby's ability to survive with a rifle, a bare minimum of food, and some good luck was not sufficient. In distinctively Hornby style, the party dallied high up on the Thelon for no explicable reason in the late summer, and missed the caribou migration southward. Consequently, they wintered without adequate food, and in the spring of 1927, all three succumbed to starvation in their cabin midway down the Thelon. Most likely, had the manner of Hornby's passing and the final depletion of strength and energy not been so dramatically and poignantly chronicled in Edgar Christian's diary, Hornby would only be a minor footnote in the history of subarctic travel. Yet, today, his status must surely approach that of a folk hero. He has been the subject of a number of books and articles, dramatic productions, and radio programs, and countless pilgrimages have been made to the site of his last cabin. ... John Hornby is a popular legend because his story sparks the imagination of wilderness travellers of the late twentieth century. With him they have a natural empathy and affinity.
... Catharine McClellan's position in North American anthropology is important, but equally important is her recognition in the Yukon. For her academic work she has received distinction; in the Yukon, she has become part of the folklore. Not infrequently, anthropologist refer to informants" as "my people" and speak of "trips to the field". A generation of Yukon Indians ranging from elderly people to adults who were toddlers when she first arrived refer to Catharine McClellan as "our Kitty" and see her primary residence as the Yukon with periodic "field trips" back to her university. They welcome her visits as those of a returning family member and regret her departures as temporary absences. Catharine McClellan is currently writing a book on Yukon Native History for the Council for Yukon Indians. She plans to write up more of her accumulated years of field research and to spend time, as she has for almost four decades, visiting her friends in the Yukon.
... It was in Baffin Island that Pat Baird first set foot in Canada. He was to return there many times, for he came to love the Arctic, its mountains, snow and ice. ... Pat Baird became a well-known public figure in 1945-46, when he participated in the celebrated "Lemming" and "Muskox" military exercises in the Canadian northwest. Because of his experience, he led the main party in Exercise Muskox, an unprecedented automotive journey of 3400 miles around the Canadian Arctic, starting in Churchill and going to Victoria Island, then as far as Coppermine and back to the Peace River country. He did this successfully and well, and did not suffer any accidents or lose any men on his party. Col. Baird's decade of arctic and military experience led to his appointment as chief of the Arctic Section of the Canadian Defence Research Board. A year later, in 1947, he was made Director of the Montreal (head) Office of The Arctic Institute of North America, a post he held until his return to Scotland in 1954. During that time he planned and led two major expeditions to Baffin Island - to the Barnes Icecap region in 1950 and to the Pangnirtung Pass area and the Penny Highland in 1953. On these expeditions, glaciological investigations were undertaken for the first time in Canada's Arctic, and Pat became an authority on mountain glacier research and arctic mountaineering. ... On his return to Canada in 1959 Pat Baird was appointed Director of the Gault Estate of McGill University ... and Supervisor of Northern Field Studies in the Department of Geography [Schefferville Subarctic Research Station. After his retirement in 1969, Pat Baird continued to travel] ... on several subsequent climbing trips to his beloved Baffin Island, where Baird Peninsula is named after him. ...