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Volume 26
Number 1
Spring 2009
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Information Crossfile
Published: 4 Sep 2015 (online)  •  14 Sep 2015 (in print)
  The importance of research archives in national parks
Can marine reserves enhance fishery yield?
How far should a marine protected area extend to provide refuge for fish near coral reefs?
Effects of increased nitrogen deposition in wilderness areas
Ecological traps: Implications for the conservation of animal populations
Alternative approaches to reserve design
The role of genetics in understanding landscape-level ecological processes
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The importance of research archives in national parks

Editor's Note: Following is a journal article summary of Canon Scholar Martin Wilmking's research by his Canon Scholar colleague Andrew Bunn.

By Andrew Bunn
Andrew Bunn was a 2001 Canon Scholar from Montana State University, Bozeman. He is an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Western Washington University.

MANY NATIONAL PARKS CONTAIN detailed records of historical land uses and events. Dedicated historians and archivists compile and archive these records, which helps further the National Park Service’s mission. However, one area in Park Service records to which researchers may not have systematic access is the early scientific research done in and around parks. Martin Wilmking and Jens Ibendorf present a short journal article that details the rediscovery of experimental plots used to test theories of tree-line advance in what is now Gates of the Arctic National Park (Alaska). Wilmking and Ibendorf describe their search for Bob Marshall’s ecological research plots established in the 1930s. Marshall sowed white spruce (Picea glauca) seeds in these plots north of the current latitudinal tree line. Using field notes and personal communications with others interested in Marshall’s scientific legacy, Wilmking’s team rediscovered Marshall’s plots, though the trees are no longer living. The plots contain living trees planted by Sam and Billie Wright in 1968, when the plots were last visited.

Wilmking and Ibendorf’s article gives an account of the search for the plots and measurements of the trees as well as a short explanation of tree-line advance theories in Marshall’s time and our own. The explanation is interesting in its own right. However, even more striking is the article’s description of a small but fascinating piece of historical research that Wilmking re-created by reading journals and biographies and through interactions with primary sources. Long-term research is consistently identified as a major lacuna or gap in understanding ecological changes; easy access to historical research and experiments is critical. Indeed, in this case, both documents and natural resources served as valuable archives. The national parks have a real opportunity for making these documents accessible to today’s scientists.


Wilmking, M., and J. Ibendorf. 2004. An early tree-line experiment by a wilderness advocate: Bob Marshall’s legacy in the Brooks Range, Alaska. Arctic 57:106–113.

Martin Wilmking was a 2000 Canon Scholar from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. He is a research group leader at University Greifswald in Germany and an affiliate research professor in the Forest Sciences Department of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

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From the Guest Editor(s)
In This Issue
  Information Crossfile
Book Reviews
Masthead Information
The Canon National Parks Science Scholars Program: A legacy of science for national parks
Science for parks / parks for science: Conservation-based research in national parks
The rock and ice problem in national parks: An opportunity for monitoring climate change impacts
1,000 feet above a coral reef: A seascape approach to designing marine protected areas
Management strategies for keystone bird species: The Magellanic woodpecker in Nahuel Huapi National Park, Argentina
Climate change and water supply in western national parks
Mercury in snow at Acadia National Park reveals watershed dynamics
Organic pollutant distribution in Canadian mountain parks
Building an NPS training program in interpretation through distance learning
Musical instruments in the pre-Hispanic Southwest
Societal dynamics in grizzly bear conservation: Vulnerabilities of the ecosystem-based management approach
Linking wildlife populations with ecosystem change: State-of-the-art satellite ecology for national-park science
Whale sound recording technology as a tool for assessing the effects of boat noise in a Brazilian marine park
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