The ongoing initiative to inventory the small mammal fauna endemic to the region
is conducted by experienced field crews from the Museum of Southwestern Biology,
University of New Mexico. Results of these efforts, which began in 1991, are made
available through reports, professional publications, presentations, and online
through the archive’s specimen database.
The Alexander Archipelago provides a fantastic opportunity to learn fundamental scientific
concepts in geology, ecology and evolutionary biology. Charles Darwin and Alfred
Russell Wallace are among the most influential and creative biologists known. Primary
inspiration for their key contributions to our understanding of how organisms diversify
and new species are created, came from their detailed studies of islands. Processes
such as natural selection, drift, population divergence and a host of other ideas
can be explored across the islands of the Alexander Archipelago. Similarly, the eminent
ecologists Robert MacArthur and Edward O. Wilson, gained new insight into understanding
how biological communities are assembled through time by studying island archipelagos.
New views of the natural world continue to emanate from island studies (published
The key players in this initiative are the local trappers and hunters who are willing
to provide (and get paid for) high quality frozen specimen samples from their traplines
or successful hunts. Generally these specimens are carcasses or skulls that will
be archived at the museum. Potential participants will first contact the ISLES coordinator
to determine if there is a need for their carcasses and then identify the best way
to transfer the material. A receipt will be issued by their agency contact person,
and a copy sent to the University of New Mexico for direct payment to the individuals
at the addresses provided.