Funded! This project was successfully funded on July 1, 2012.


Join us in our quest to study predators and other Alaskan wildlife in one of the last pristine ecosystems in the world!

Need a quick and dirty summary?

We're graduate students setting out on a scientific Alaskan expedition to study predators and other wildlife. We're going to:

  • Attach satellite transmitter backpacks to Bald Eagles to track their movements
  • Use trail cameras to capture images of bears, wolves, coyote, lynx, and other smaller carnivores, like mink, marten, and ermine
  • Use chemical analyses to find out how far Bald Eagles travel to find salmon
  • Publish scientific papers
  • Take lots of awesome photographs and do some field sketches
  • Maintain a blog ( where we'll regularly post images, videos, and narratives of our adventures studying predators in Alaska!

Who are we?

We are wildlife biologists who study predator ecology and conservation at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Click on our names to learn more about us!

Rachel WheatYiwei Wang, and Taal Levi

Get updates and learn more about our work at!

What is this project about?

Southeastern Alaska is a land of wonder and mystery, boasting some of the world's most pristine landscapes and unique biodiversity. Here, the rivers support immense salmon runs, which in turn form the foundation for the local natural and human communities. The spawning salmon feed a diverse assemblage of species, including microbes, insects, wolves, grizzlies, eagles, and humans. In addition, salmon attract tourists who come for the unparalleled fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities. Come be a part of our journey as we explore this amazing landscape to document the ecological services provided by these salmon.

Our project represents an interdisciplinary approach to the study of ecology, and thus, our goals are both scientific and artistic. As scientists, we will investigate the importance of salmon to the ecosystem by studying their contributions to the diets of local carnivores, large and small. In addition, fall salmon runs support migrating eagles, which arrive by the thousands to feed. Because these eagles travel from unknown summer locales across North America, we will track eagle migration patterns to determine the geographic scale across which salmon impact the landscape.

As artists, we will use writing, artwork, and photography to foster ties among native peoples, wildlife, scientists, and you, our project supporters. By contributing to our research, you will have the opportunity to experience the trials and rewards of scientific exploration in one of America's last remaining pristine areas of wilderness.

Why are we going to Alaska?

There are economic and conservation reasons to study the salmon here. Southeastern Alaska contains vast amounts of valuable minerals that have attracted mining companies hoping to exploit these resources. While the mines may bring huge revenues to the state, their impact on the ecosystem may be equally large. Our project will gather baseline information about a little-known ecosystem and reveal potential repercussions that may result from extractive mining. Your contributions to this project might one day mean the difference between a landscape marred by mining and one preserved for wildlife and human use and enjoyment. 

What, specifically, do we plan to do in Alaska? 

If funded, we will spend four months in Haines, Alaska collecting data on wildlife species abundance, carnivore community composition and dynamics, salmon availability, and human/wildlife interactions. To do so, we plan to accomplish three objectives:

·       Place 30 motion-detecting trail cameras along rivers to capture photo and video footage of wildlife feeding on salmon.

·       Attach 5 satellite transmitting backpack units on bald eagles to track each bird's daily and seasonal migratory movements.

·       Use sophisticated chemical analyses to determine, from eagle feathers, where these migratory birds breed and raise chicks during the summer months.

What will result from this work?

The physical products of this work will include the online documentation of our scientific progress (at, professional-quality photographic prints, a series of illustrated narratives, and more! This project will also result in papers published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, scientific presentations, and community events with the general public.

Our preliminary work the summer and fall of 2012, funded by YOU, will provide the foundation for future studies, spanning several years, of the ecological community in southeastern Alaska. By funding this research, you are contributing to a scientific study that will influence future management and land use strategies for this unique community.

Ultimately, we hope to produce a documentary film highlighting our work in this awe-inspiring region.

What will the funds be used for?

Your generous funds will help support travel expenses (3K), field housing (2K), equipment (8K), and analyses (2K) for four months of scientific, literary and photographic work in Alaska. 

Please contact us if you want to support the project but would rather not pay online, or if you would like to contribute funding but do not wish to receive rewards.


Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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    The above, PLUS a custom postcard with a photograph from the field mailed to you from Alaska!

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    All of the above AND one signed 5 X 7 print of a photograph from the field.

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    All of the above AND a custom, Alaska-themed t-shirt designed by the field biologists (who, seriously, are pretty good artists).

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    All of the above AND a plaster cast of an animal print from the field (we'll take requests, or it can be a surprise-- but sorry, no adult bear prints. They would be too difficult to ship!).

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    All of the above AND dinner and discussion with one or more of the project biologists in Northern California or Southeast Alaska (This is for local residents only; other locales plan for travel costs).

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    All of the above AND a chance to adopt and name a bald eagle, the ultimate symbol of freedom!

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    All of the above AND our eternal gratitude, as well as the self-satisfaction of knowing your funding will help to inform conservation strategies for one of America's last pristine ecosystems! Additionally, one of the researchers will travel to your preferred location (within the United States) to give a talk about the research to an organization of your choice!

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    All rewards through the $1000 level, AND an expenses-paid, 4-day, 3-night trip to accompany the biologists in the field in Alaska and participate in the research process. PLUS all the salmon you can eat! (For US or Canadian residents only; other locales plan for additional expenses to cover travel fees to US.)

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Funding period

- (43 days)