Arctic Field Projects



Project Title: PostDoctoral Research Fellowship (Award# 0817635)

PI: Ashley, Noah T (noah.ashley@wku.edu)
Phone: (614) 364.5199 
Institute/Department: Western Kentucky University, Department of Biology 
IPY Project? NO
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\GEO\OPP\ANT\PD
Program Manager: Dr. Roberta Marinelli ( rmarinel@nsf.gov )
Discipline(s): | Biology\Animal Behavior | Biology\Chronobiology | Biology\Neurobiology |

Project Web Site(s):
NSF_Award_Info: http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward.do?AwardN...

Science Summary:
This polar postdoctoral research will examine the molecular and neurobiological mechanisms that regulate the persistence of a circadian rhythm in an arctic-breeding songbird, the Lapland Longspur (Calcarius lapponicus). Circadian rhythms are integral to the temporal organization of behavior and physiology of most organisms, and are primarily synchronized by the light-dark cycle of day and night. In polar regions, continuous light or darkness prevails for much of the year, leading to abandonment of circadian rhythmicity in most polar animals. An exception to this rule is arctic-breeding migratory songbirds-- they maintain rhythmicity despite exposure to continuous daylight on their high-latitude breeding grounds. The postdoctoral fellow will receive training in neurobiological techniques to examine patterns of clock gene expression (pPer2) in two circadian oscillators: the hypothalamus and pineal gland. The researcher will (1) correlate clock gene expression with biological rhythms in free-living longspurs, (2) evaluate if rhythms in activity and pPer2 expression are endogenous, and (3) determine if such rhythms entrain to low-amplitude zeitgebers of polar day. The intellectual merit of the work lies in understanding the molecular and neurobiological basis of circadian function in polar animals. The project is the first study to examine time-keeping genes in polar migrants. The broader impacts include funding the stipends for two Alaskan Native high school students as summer field technicians. Research results will have implications for the treatment of seasonal affective disorder in humans. The post-doctoral fellow will receive research and career guidance from two sponsoring scientists.

Logistics Summary:
During two seasons of fieldwork (2009 and 2010) at Barrow, Alaska, the PI will study circadian rhythms of the Lapland Longspur. The work will include field and laboratory components to examine both natural variation in circadian function in free-living Lapland Longspurs that breed at high latitude, and to understand the molecular patterns of gene expression that regulate polar-based circadian oscillators. In August of 2009, the researcher will conduct fieldwork in Barrow. Working with local high school students hired as field assistants, the PI will conduct field observations. The team also will capture some subjects for further studies in captive studies at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. The team will use four-wheelers to access area field sites and conduct onsite lab studies at Ilisagvik College. For 2010, fieldwork will take place from May to July and the PI will conduct lab studies that are currently planned for the Barrow Arctic Research Center. Working with local high school students hired as field assistants, the PI will conduct field observations. The team also will capture some subjects for sampling and observation of live individuals at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. The team will use four-wheelers to access field sites. Prior to shipment, samples will be stored in the -80 deg C freezer space in building 360. CPS will provide weekly shipments of dry ice from Anchorage; the PI will pick these up and use them to ship samples back to his lab in Anchorage. Neurobiological analysis will be conducted at the University of California, Berkeley.

CPS is working with BTS Professional Services (BTSPS) and other local organizations to provide Barrow infrastructure support, including lodging, meals, lab space, equipment, vehicles, and safety gear. BTSPS has engaged the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium (BASC) to provide on-the-ground support in Barrow.
SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2009Alaska - Utqiaġvik (Barrow)07 / 01 / 2009 08 / 31 / 20091
2010Alaska - Utqiaġvik (Barrow)05 / 24 / 2010 07 / 02 / 20104
 


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Parameters used to generate this report:, Grant# = "0817635", IPY = "ALL" 
     Number of projects returned based on your query parameters = 1
 
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