How do stagnant, bark-nibbling porcupines survive frigid Alaska winters?

1/9/2022 1:51:00 AM

Biologist Jessy Coltrane spent six years studying porcupines, which sustain themselves on bark and highly toxic pine needles during the coldest months.

How do stagnant, bark-nibbling porcupines survive frigid Alaska winters? A biologist spent more than six years studying them and came away with several insights:

Biologist Jessy Coltrane spent six years studying porcupines, which sustain themselves on bark and highly toxic pine needles during the coldest months.

Published: 2 hours ago A porcupine near Valdez.Airlines struggle with weather and COVID-19 More than 1,700 flights have been canceled and thousands were grounded this weekend.By Updated: 26 minutes ago Published: 48 minutes ago A long line of travelers waits for Alaska Airlines customer service at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Tuesday morning, December 28, omicron variant cases have been identified thus far in Alaska, omicron became the dominant variant in the U.

(Photo by Ned Rozell) While running through Far North Bicentennial Park in Anchorage, biologist Jessy Coltrane spotted a porcupine in a birch tree.On her runs on days following, she saw it again and again, in good weather and bad.The move by Alaska is similar to a decision last week by JetBlue Airways to cut about 1,300 flights through mid-January.Over time, she knew which Alaska creature she wanted to study.Thompson added that the majority of the impacted flights will be in the Lower 48, without significant changes to “our normal January flying to communities in Alaska.“I thought, ‘Oh my god, how does he do it? How does this animal make it through winter?’” Coltrane said years ago during the December defense of her doctoral thesis in Fairbanks.S.“It would be 20 below out and he’s there eating (bark).“What we’ve found over the past five days or so is anything from 80 to 95% of the samples that are tested are coming back positive for that target failure,” McLaughlin said Thursday.

” Coltrane’s study cast some midwinter light on the Alaska porcupine, perhaps the least-studied mammal in the state.The tracking service said that equaled about 8% of the day's scheduled flights, and it was the 12th straight day of 1,000-plus cancellations, which blamed on the virus surge and winter weather.“This will give us the flexibility and capacity needed to reset while continued flexible travel policies enable guests to adjust their plans accordingly,” he said.She at first wanted to learn about what porcupines did in winter, but switched to studying the physiology of the quilled creature after the porcupines she watched hardly moved on their tree-limb perches.Winter porcupine behavior “doesn’t happen,” she joked at her defense.Southwest continued to be the hardest hit among U.But that lack of activity in a subarctic winter made porcupines more intriguing to her.The porcupine doesn’t avoid winter by hibernating like a bear, nor does it curl up in an earthen womb like the beaver (the only larger rodent in Alaska).airlines, canceling about 650 flights, or 21% of its schedule for Thursday by early evening.“We’ve watching this move across the country,” he said Friday.

She saw porcupines most often in trees, with no protection from the elements.In designing her study, Coltrane mused about the challenges of an exposed life during an Alaska winter: Bitter air temperatures would probably require a porcupine to take in more calories, she thought.Alaska had scrubbed about 125, or 17% of its flights.This seemed puzzling when a porcupine’s major food was to be the inner bark of white spruce trees and the tree’s bitter needles, rich with toxins that discourage most every other animal from chewing them.[ For Alaska’s winter birds, coping with the cold is a matter of survival.” Alaska said reducing flights through the end of January “will give us the flexibility and capacity needed to reset.How do they do it? ] To begin her study, she searched for detailed studies of far-north porcupines.“It’s a different equation than before.

She found none.S.With advice from biologists she respected, she set up her own study, installing radio collars on porcupines in the forests of Anchorage and with the help of her husband building pens for a few in Fairbanks.The captive porcupines helped her understand how they functioned on such a poor diet.Jessy Coltrane and her study subject in Anchorage.(Photo courtesy Jessy Coltrane) After a study that took her more than six years, Coltrane presented these porcupine insights during her thesis defense: • Alaska porcupines are almost twice as large as Lower 48 porcupines.Kosin said hospitals will continue to watch the spread of the variant, though it’s too early to know exactly what it will do.

• Porcupines in her study area didn’t “hibernate on the hoof” by lowering their body temperatures to save energy.Whether it was 30 above or 30 below, porcupines — insulated by their quills and dense guard hairs — remained at about the same body temperature as a human’s.• The porcupines in her study, each of which she named, ate a highly toxic winter diet that required lots of energy to process.They survived the winter by burning body fat and moving very little.• Fifty percent of a porcupine’s weight in fall was in the form of fat.The case rate for the nation as a whole is 1,236.

“That’s ridiculously fat,” Coltrane said.“Like a polar bear or a seal.” • Despite eating low-protein foods in winter, porcupines did not lose lean tissue.They instead lost 30% of their fat reserves.• More than 20% of their meager dietary intake was lost in their urine, most likely a result of ridding their bodies of toxins stored in spruce needles.The rate of Alaskans who have received doses of vaccination remains largely unchanged since the state last reported those figures on Wednesday.

• Her Alaska porcupines had larger winter home ranges than did Lower 48 porcupines, and spent time in mixed hardwood and conifer forests.• Porcupines she studied spent 79% of their time in and around white spruce trees, the rest of the time in birch.“(Eating) birch gives them a break from the toxins,” Coltrane said.“Maybe that’s why they prefer mixed forest.” • While dealing with winter “for a ridiculous number of months,” Coltrane’s porcupines depleted their fat reserves.

To survive, porcupines depend on nutritious springtime greenery, which must be delicious after months of nibbling bark and spruce needles.Sponsored.

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Porcupines are cool but since Jessy moved out of Alaska years ago this just seems sad. pdougherty Suppose the ADN will ever tell it's readers that all three Alaska Congressional reps, Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan and Don Young all voted to deny you your right to vote? Or is it porcupines and bird stories all the way down? repdonyoung SenDanSullivan lisamurkowski

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