People, landscapes, and wildlife from this past summer's (May-June 2011) field season in west Greenland. The long arctic days were spent gathering data on the timing of plant growth, insect development, and caribou (a.k.a. reindeer) calving on the tundra about 15 miles from the small town of Kangerlussuaq (formerly known as Sondrestrom). Features members of the Ecological Dynamics in Time and Space Lab from Penn State.
The transition from bleak snow-covered landscape to lush caribou calving ground is as dramatic as it is speedy on this swath of mountainous arctic tundra. With only a brief window of abundant daylight and comparatively warm temperatures each summer, plants and animals rush through the reproductive stages of their life-cycles before the biting cold once again drives the life from the landscape in early autumn. This makes each summer a high-stakes race to reproduce, bulk-up, and prepare for the fast approaching gray days of winter...a perfect situation for a grad student interested in studying the details and consequences of how, when, and why various components of the living community interact with one another.
Members of the Ecological Dynamics lab at Penn State study all aspects of this system. Projects range from tracking the ever-changing fates of carbon atoms as they're traded between plants, animals, and the atmosphere (C02, oh no!), to unlocking the mysteries of cyclic population explosions of caterpillars that defoliate large swathes of the arctic, and even in deciphering the population dynamics of the Arctic's largest herbivores - caribou and muskoxen - in a rapidly changing system.
Already looking forward to Summer 2012!
Title is homage to one of Chadden Hunter's classic lines from his early documentaries on gelada monkeys.
Music and license obtained from Vimeo's online music store (how convenient!).
Title: Hollow Man
Artist: Kerry Muzzey
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