Natalie Dawson, Ph.D.

     University of New Mexico 2009

             Cook Lab

The Tongass is the largest U.S. national forest and the only national forest within an island archipelago.  This region is home to over 18,000 islands, isolated on the eastern edge by the Coast Range mountains, and on the western edge by the Gulf of Alaska.  When combined with coastal British Columbia, the region also contains some of the largest remaining tracts of temperate rainforest in the world. 


My dissertation research focuses on the distribution of endemic carnivores (marten, ermine and black bear) across the Alexander Archipelago, in southeast Alaska.   I use molecular genetics to trace historical and contemporary changes in mammal distributions across this vast island system. 


This map illustrates a large portion of the Alexander Archipelago.  Red lines indicate roaded areas on the islands.  Prince of Wales Island is the large island with the highest density of roaded areas.  It is also home to the largest number of endemic mammals.