Toolik Field Station Community Survey

Date: 
9 March 1998

COMMUNITY SURVEY ON NEEDS AND USES FOR TOOLIK FIELD STATION, ALASKA

ARCUS, with the multi-institutional Toolik Field Station Steering
Committee, is canvassing the arctic research community for information on
the scope of potential future uses of the Toolik Field Station by
investigators representing a variety of disciplines, institutions, and
countries. We would like primarily to assess scientific and education
community interest in developing more comprehensive educational
opportunities using Toolik Field Station facilities. Toolik Field Station
(TFS), operated by the Institute of Arctic Biology (IAB) of the University
of Alaska Fairbanks, has served as a base for field research in northern
Alaska since 1975. Located off the Dalton Highway about 400 miles north of
Fairbanks and 150 miles south of Prudhoe Bay, Toolik offers investigators
access to arctic tundra, lakes, and streams, and an environmental transect
along the highway corridor from the peaks of the Brooks Range to the
coastal plain.

Please take a few minutes to review the information below and complete
and return the brief survey to ARCUS (york@eagle.ptialaska.net) and Michael
Abels at IAB (fnmaa@uaf.edu). This survey is also available on the Internet
at <http://arcus.polarnet.com/TFS/TFS_Survey.html>, and can be submitted
directly via email from there. If you complete the survey on the Internet,
it will be automatically sent to the above addresses.

These ideas and recommendations from the scientific community will help to
achieve better planning and use of this important field station.

For those interested, further information on the Toolik Field Station
can be found after the survey questions; more detailed information is
available on the Station's web site (http://www.uafbio.alaska.edu/toolik/toolik.html) or from the report
on TFS prepared by ARCUS at <http://arcus.polarnet.com/TFS/TFS_report.html>.

Brian Barnes <ffbmb@aurora.alaska.edu>, Chair
TFS Steering Committee

SURVEY

1. We are considering developing a field course in arctic science for
graduate and undergraduate students to be based at the Toolik Field
Station, Alaska. A 1-3 week lecture/field course in arctic biology and
earth sciences would be timed not to interfere with research programs at
the Station. It would offer students an introduction to arctic systems with
first-hand experiences investigating high latitude plant and animal
communities and their environments. We anticipate attracting active arctic
researchers as visiting faculty to train the next generation of arctic
scientists.

a) Would you be interested in having your students participate in such a
course?

b) Would you be interested in participating as visiting faculty?

c) Would you be interested in participating in a workshop to develop plans
and funding strategies for such a field course in arctic science?

Please add any other comments or suggestions regarding a field course here.

2. a) If funding and/or logistics or facilities constraints were not an
issue, what research would you like to do at Toolik in the next 5 years?

b) If you have an interest in doing research at TFS, and with financial
constraints aside, how many person days would you plan in future field
seasons?

c) What months would you work in?

3. Is there a facility or capability that TFS currently lacks that would
make a major difference in your research capabilities or plannning?

4. a) Before you got this email, did you know Toolik Field Station existed?

b) Do you have any other comments or suggestions?

INFORMATION ABOUT TOOLIK FIELD STATION

At present, facilities at Toolik are adequate for the support of about 40
researchers (up to 70-80 for short periods) during the summer season. Over
the last 20 years, research done in the landscape in and around Toolik Lake
has attracted worldwide attention and scientific collaborations; the area
has become one of the most thoroughly studied in the Arctic. Investigators
from 39 states and 25 countries have worked at Toolik, resulting in more
than 350 scientific papers and two books (this bibliography can be accessed
at <http://arcus.polarnet.com/TFS/TFS_pubs.html>). The value of this work
was recognized when the entire watershed of Toolik Lake and the nearby
headwaters of the Kuparuk River were named a Research Natural Area by the
Bureau of Land Management.

Recommendations for Toolik's science mission and future facilities plans
were developed at a 1995 workshop and published in a 1996 report by ARCUS.
The consensus of the workshop and input from the wider arctic science
community was that expansion and upgrade of TFS facilities is warranted by
the Station's

* high past productivity,
* increasing numbers of investigators,
* favorable location for future integrated environmental research
programs, and
* existing commitments of both researchers and funding agencies to work
at TFS.

Workshop participants agreed that the current management of TFS by IAB is
good and would benefit from closer coordination with science users, land
managers, and the wider community. Recommendations for improvement of
management included:

* a part-time Scientific Director to coordinate the scientific and
educational missions of TFS, seek funding for facility upgrades, and
provide community outreach,
* a more active role for the existing Science Users Advisory Group,
* a new Strategic Advisory Board to provide a broader perspective.

Development and growth of TFS is planned to parallel research needs,
following clear priorities. High priority recommendations from the workshop
include:

* a reorganization of the funding mechanism; TFS is currently funded by
a per diem charge to research projects of $150 per day; a base funding
mechanism from NSF should be sought,
* a number of facilities improvements, many of which have already been
made or are underway:
* three new modular labs, one of which can be used in winter,
* improvements to communications systems,
* new meeting and storage facilities,
* electrical, gravel, and water upgrades (to be completed 1998), and
* housing for investigators in winter (to be available fall 1998).

More information about Toolik can be found on the Toolik Field Station web
site at <http://www.uafbio.alaska.edu/toolik/toolik.html>;

a copy of the ARCUS workshop report is available at
<http://arcus.polarnet.com/TFS/TFS_report.html>;

information about arctic field stations is available through the Arctic
Logistics Information Access Service (ALIAS) at
<http://www.nsf.gov/od/opp/arctic/logistic/start.htm>;

the largest research programs based at TFS include the Arctic LTER Program
at <http://www.mbl.edu/html/ECOSYSTEMS/lterhtml/arc.html>,

the ARCSS LAII FLUX Study at
<http://arcss.colorado.edu/projects/laiiproj.html#Flux Study>,

and the ARCSS LAII contribution to the International Tundra Experiment
(ITEX) at <http://arcss.colorado.edu/projects/laiiproj.html#International
Tundra Experiment>.