Kupreanof Island

Jul 10, 2018 - National Geographic Sea Lion


This morning we disembarked from our good ship, National Geographic Sea Lion, for our first venture into the temperate rainforest of Southeastern Alaska.  Our trail took us past evidence of selective hand logging that occurred in the first decades of the twentieth century, then along an excellent boardwalk trail, with traction provided by repurposed fishing nets.  We entered the coastal spruce Hemlock forest and marveled at the giant trees and the small flowering plants that covered the forest floor.

An abrupt change in the vegetation signaled our entry into a muskeg bog.  This is a very distinct habitat with few plant species in common with the adjacent forest.  A muskeg is a bog habitat with scattered, stunted trees.  The soil is waterlogged, low in oxygen, very acidic, and low in available nutrients.  These factors limit the plants that can grow here.  We found two species of sundews, plants that capture and digest insects using sticky glands on their leaves, to supplement the meager nutrients that they can take up from the soil.

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About the Author

Steve Maclean

Naturalist

Steve is a zoologist and ecologist, broadly interested in the ecology and natural history of plants, birds, mammals, and insects. Steve received a doctorate in zoology from the University of California, Berkeley and spent 26 years on the faculty of the University of Alaska Fairbanks as Professor of Biology and Director of International Programs. He taught courses in ecology and authored over fifty scientific papers.

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