The Study of Mountain Goats in Berner's Bay
Field research and mountain goat observations in Berner's Bay, near Juneau, Alaska
Jeff Frederick is currently conducting his graduate research on terrestrial thermal dynamics and associated constraints on the behavior of mountain goats (Oreamnos americanus) in Southeast Alaska. His project is in association with the UAF Dept. of Biology and Wildlife, the Institute of Arctic Biology, and Alaska EPSCoR. As a part of the Southeast Test Case for Alaska EPSCoR, Jeff has deployed an array of temperature sensors from mountain peaks in Berners Bay down to sea level in an effort to elucidate near-surface lapse rates which are, simply put, changes in air temperature as a result of elevation. Jeff is interested in utilizing the lapse rates found in the coastal temperate rainforest to better inform climate projections (produced by SNAP) for the region.
Additionally, Jeff is combining mammalian energetics modeling and behavioral sampling for goats in Berners Bay to derive activity budgets and make predictions on how goat behavior is constrained by heat and solar exposure. On sunny, hot days in the alpine, Jeff has observed thermoregulatory trends in goat behavior and movement where goats limit their habitat use to shady ravines, aspects, and high elevation sites which often contain less abundant or lower quality forage. Jeff plans to quantitatively investigate these heat-driven constraints on mountain goat behavior and use his lapse rate data to make predictions on potential behavioral trade-offs, forage capability, and survivability for goat populations in Berners Bay given recent projections of a warming climate.