Joseph A. Cook
This project was supported by the Bureau of Land Management and in cooperation with a Ducks Unlimited project aimed at mapping major vegetation types on BLM lands in the state of Alaska. This was the first systematic inventory of mammals of the western Alaska Range. As such, the data derived from this project have begun to fill a considerable void in our knowledge of the mammalian fauna of Alaska. The voucher specimens and associated data sets form a significant resource for long-term monitoring of environmental trends in western Alaska. This report details the inventory of the mammals at eight sites in proximity to the western Alaska Range in July and August 1999. We begin the process of documenting the 42 species of mammals known to occur, or have recently occurred, in the western Alaska Range. Our work primarily focuses on small mammals. We recorded more than 9200 trapnights (138 person-days) of sampling effort that resulted in 1015 specimens which document 17 mammal species. These specimens include the 11th record (ever) of the Yukon shrew, Sorex yukonicus. Federal legislation (NEPA 1973, ESA 1973) has mandated the conservation of biological diversity on federal lands. Considerable public and scientific attention is now focused on the loss of biodiversity on federal lands, particularly in landscapes that have been modified by human activity. A reasonable understanding of ecosystem patterns and processes requires baseline documentation of the fauna and flora. This information is missing for the majority of the mammal species in western Alaska resulting in a serious gap in the ability of wildlife managers and land planners to critically evaluate impacts of perturbations on the mammalian biota. Maintenance of viable populations requires a more complete knowledge of the distribution, geographic variation, parasite and disease loads, and systematics of this region's mammal fauna.