Saturday, June 30, 2012


Today is the last day of our Kickstarter funding drive. We've been unsure about how this project would run. Can we actually use crowd funding to support scientific research? We've had our doubts, but we're so close now we might just make it! We have only $740 remaining to reach out $10,000 goal, but only 16 hours left to get there! Please, if you haven't donated, consider contributing if you can. We can see the finish line-- if we meet our goal and receive these funds, they will greatly offset the cost of equipment, travel, housing, and field help for our work in southeastern Alaska.

And don't worry-- once our drive ends we'll stop haranguing you with posts about our funding drive, and move on to more exciting things. :) Our field season starts soon!

Check out our Kickstarter page!

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Almost there!

We have just three days left to meet our Kickstarter funding goal-- our drive ends this Saturday night! The good news? We're doing GREAT! We've raised over $8,200 so far! Thank you so much to our generous contributors who are helping to get this project up and running!

The not-so-great news? We're not quite there yet! We need to raise at least $10,000 before 11:59 PM, PDT, this Saturday, June 30th. As of writing this post, we need just an additional $1,774 to make it. Remember, Kickstarter is all-or-nothing, meaning if we don't raise at least $10K in the next 62 hours, we won't receive any funding at all. Please help us with this final push of our Kickstarter drive by continuing to spread the word about our project and contributing donations.

62 hours. $1,774. Can we succeed? Can we use crowd funding for science? Let's show Kickstarter that we can!

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

It's all about the salmon!

Hello everyone! We have just four days left for our Kickstarter project. If you haven't had a chance to donate, please contribute now! We're 61% of the way to reaching our funding goal, and time is running out! Tell friends, family, and colleagues about our project and help to fund scientific research!

Thanks to everyone who came out to our talk yesterday evening at the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum! We had a great time discussing our research, showing our photos and videos, and interacting with everyone from the community. We really appreciate your support, and we hope you'll continue to check in with us as we gear up for the start of our field season at the end of July!

One of the major points we reviewed is how important salmon are to terrestrial wildlife, and how little we still know about how much salmon different species, including bald eagles, bears, wolves, coyotes, marten, and others, need to survive.

Historically, millions of salmon spawned up freshwater streams from the ocean, provisioning human and wildlife communities. However, land use changes, such as increasing urbanization and agricultural conversion, as well as overfishing, climate change, and water contamination, have adversely impacted salmon populations, and salmon have disappeared from greater than 40% of their historic range.

Fewer salmon in freshwater streams means less terrestrial wildlife, but we're still working to learn more about precisely how salmon availability affects wildlife communities. For example, what would happen if a large salmon run, such as the yearly chum salmon run in early winter on the Chilkat River, disappeared?

We can always speculate about what might happen if a large proportion of the salmon were lost, but we may find out first-hand within the next decade. Constantine Metals, LLC, has staked a mining claim just upstream of the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve near Haines, Alaska, home of one of the largest annual congregations of Bald Eagles in North America. Upwards of 3,000 eagles or more feed at one time on salmon between late October and mid-November on the Preserve. The claim, to be developed as a copper, zinc, gold and silver mine spanning more than 90 square kilometers, could threaten salmon and all the wildlife that feed on them. Although mining generates economic revenue and provides jobs to local workers, mining processes have high environmental costs. Leaching of toxic heavy metals, cyanide poisoning, erosion, fugitive dust emissions, and contamination of soil and groundwater all threaten ecosystems near mines. It's not hard to imagine that these impacts would be detrimental to salmon populations.

As part of our research, we hope to collect baseline data on wildlife community composition and species diversity and abundance, as well as conduct experiments to help better understand salmon consumption and the salmon requirements of terrestrial carnivores. These data will be invaluable if any mines are implemented in the future-- we'll be able to use the data we collect now to help understand exactly how mines affect the local environment in the future.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Alaska Predator Expedition Talk 6/25

Rachel and Yiwei will be presenting a free public talk at the UCSC Arboretum (directions) next Monday 6/25 from 6:30-8 PM. 
Photo Credit: Jenn Allen from
We will show pictures of the wildlife and landscape of Southeast Alaska, including images captured by motion detecting cameras. Come learn about the unique ecosystem formed at the confluence of the Klehini, Tsirku, and Chilkat rivers. Together, these rivers attract a late chum salmon run that supports thousands of migrating eagles every year. We will talk about our research goals for this fall and our Kickstarter project. As an added incentive, free drinks and light snacks also provided! 

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Monday, June 18, 2012

New York Times covers Taal's recent research project!

Since finishing up his PhD, Taal's generated a lot of press with his recent publications on salmon and now on Lyme Disease! The New York Times today featured a blog about his study linking the decline of certain predators with the spread of Lyme Disease in the midwest.

The article also features a figure created by Taal and Yiwei.

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Friday, June 15, 2012

More Press!

Take a look at this great article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel about our Kickstarter campaign!

UC Santa Cruz students try crowdsourcing research; Kickstarter used to raise funds

If you're a Santa Cruz resident, you can check out a print copy of the article in today's newspaper, section C (Extra), page 2!

We only have 15 days left to meet our Kickstarter funding goal of $10,000! Keep spreading the word about our research and keep those donations coming!

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Press about our Kickstarter project!

Hello everyone--

Check out the news article in the Santa Cruz Patch about our upcoming trip to Alaska and our Kickstarter campaign!

We have just 16 days remaining to meet our Kickstarter funding goal, so if you haven't had a chance yet, please consider donating!

We're expecting additional press for our project, so check in again soon!

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

New Salmon Artwork

Recently, I (Yiwei) was approached by the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project to illustrate the cover of their new brochure. I just finished the drawing and thought I'd share the picture I created with you.

I used colored pencils to depict coho salmon as they journey through the redwood streams to their spawning grounds. Hopefully, you'll agree that all the art classes I took as a kid paid off! 

Although I don't consider myself an artist, I do like honing my drawing skills once in a while, especially to advance scientific communication and knowledge. If you follow and/or support our project, you'll continue to see us strive to connect science and artistic expression through sketches, drawings, photography, and many more avenues!

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