Snow field and volcanic spire (foreground), Bering Sea (background), St. Matthew Island, AK.

In June 2018 I had the opportunity to accompany the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as vegetation ecologist on a multi-disciplinary expedition to St. Matthew Island (SMI), a remote island located in the middle of the Bering Sea (Figure 1). Our team consisted of 8 bird biologists, a museum collections manager, an archeologist, and myself.


Grande Ronde River as it flows through La Grande, OR.

Which came first, the salmon or the forest? Like the classic chicken and egg idiom it’s impossible to say.

Amy Gulick in her book “Salmon in the trees: Life in Alaska’s Tongass Rain Forest” takes the reader on a journey of photographs and prose through the incredible linkages between Pacific Salmon and forests in southeast Alaska streams. Amy writes :

“Streams like this one, that draw from the mossy wet ‘sponge’ of the rain forest, flow more evenly, more dependably. Shade helps stabilize and cool stream temperatures. Fallen logs form pools and eddies that break the current, giving rest and…


Dark gray clouds hung low, encompassing the jagged summits of the Kejulik Mountains in southwestern Katmai National Park and Preserve (KATM). A lone helicopter, kept aloft by the complimentary forces of thrust, drag, and lift, buzzed along beneath the clouds; a bright red bumblebee in an expansive wilderness. Our ABR, Inc. field crew had traveled to KATM for field work in support of an ecosystem and soil mapping project while working under contract with the National Park Service. …

Aaron Wells

Aaron is a Senior Ecologist and Principal at ABR, Inc. Environmental Research and Services in Anchorage, AK.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store