Featured EcoLeader

Christina Rinas
Alaska Pacific University

This week’s Featured EcoLeader is Christina Rinas from the Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage, Alaska. Christina was awarded a 2013 NWF Emerging Leaders Fellowship which helped to support her research studying vegetation changes in the Chugach Mountains, located right outside of Anchorage, Alaska. Specifically, Christina is studying how shrubs are expanding in distribution and abundance in the subalpine- alpine transition zone, and growing in places where they have not historically been known to grow.  Shrub expansion changes vegetation communities, which may alter wildlife habitat.  Certain wildlife species dependent on shrubby areas may benefit, but others that rely on open, alpine areas may have less available habitat.  Shrub expansion is occurring in many places in Alaska, but it is unknown how widespread these changes are in the Chugach Mountains. Christina’s research is part of a larger natural resource monitoring project at the Alaska Pacific University.  Twenty students and four faculty members are involved with the project.  The team has presented their research at a number of conferences including the Ecological Society of America meeting. Congratulations, Christina. Keep up the great work!



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