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Winter Microclimated of Importance to Alaskan Small Mammals and Birds


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Winter microclimatic conditions at areas in the continental interior of Alaska, and at areas on the Arctic Slope of Alaska were measured and observed during the 1950-1951 and 1951-1952 winter periods. Concurrent with the determinations of conditions of the physical environment, observations were made concerning animal activity and the biotic environment. The animals chiefly studied were the small mammals: Clethrionomys rutilus, Microtus oeconomus, Tamiasciurus hudsonicus, Mustela erminea, Sorex cinereus, and Lepus americanus; and the birds: Acanthis sp., Parus atricapillus, Corvus corax, and Pedioecetes phasianellus. An attempt was made to determine the response of these animals to conditions in the several zones during the principal microclimatic states and events. In general, the animals of all zones avoided the most severe conditions of the coldest zones. The subnivean small mammals were dependent for survival upon the continuous existence of the warm subnivean microclimates. The small birds at times fed on seeds on the cold snow surface when it had temperatures of -60 to -70 deg F. Relatively warm and cold microclimatic zones were also found at areas on the Arctic Slope and on the Arctic Coast.



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