What Are They Doing?

An international team of American, Japanese, and Russian researchers and students examined the 5,000-year history of human-environmental interactions in the Kuril Island chain of Russia. The team combined studies of archaeology, geology, paleoecology, oceanography, and climatology to investigate the records of human settlement and abandonment on the Islands. They also surveyed the geologic evidence of volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, past vegetation, marine conditions, and climatological evidence of past temperature, sea ice, and storminess. The research team traveled by boat to a number of islands to dig archaeological pits, sample soils, and searched for buried artifacts and clues to past activity on the islands. The objectives of the project included understanding the environmental conditions of the past and estimating the degree of human vulnerability and resilience to both sudden and gradual environmental changes. For more information about the Kuril Biocomplexity Project, check out the project website here.

Where Are They?

The research team traveled by boat to several islands in the Kuril Island archipelago. The Kuril Islands lie between the Kamchatka peninsula of Russia and northern Japan, in the northwest Pacific Ocean.

Latest Journals

Here is one final "Mystery Sound" posting, of something we heard quite a bit this summer. If you've ever been camping in the Pacific Northwest, then you've probably heard this at one time or another yourself! Mystery Audio http:// As with the other "Mystery Sounds" I've posted, the video feed…
At the time I am writing this, I am safely back at my home in Bellingham. All the other team members have also either returned home or moved on to their next field season (Jody, Bre, and Andy are now in Sicily!). And most of us, by now, should have about recovered from jet lag and the 18 hour…
Here is some audio of something we got to see on a recent field trip on our single "day off" in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. Can you guess what it is? I'll give you a hint: it is cold and slippery. But it might not be what you think it is! Mystery Audio http:// Mystery Sound Video http:// I'll be…
Since my last posting a few days ago, we have successfully (and safely) returned to solid ground. We steamed 670 km (415 miles) across the Sea of Okhotsk from our last field site (Kompaneskii, north Urup Island) back to port at Korsakov, and then by vehicle/s north up the highway to Yuzhno-…
Kuril Islands, Russia
Project Funded Title
Biocomplexity and Human-Environment Interactions in the Kuril Islands, Russia
Misty Nikula - Teacher
Whatcom Day Academy

Misty Nikula has taught math and science at Whatcom Day Academy in Bellingham, Washington for nine years and in 2004 was awarded two Science Teacher of the Year awards. Ms. Nikula considers herself a scientist first, then a teacher, and encourages her students to see themselves as scientists as well. Ms. Nikula worked as a chemical engineer for five years before returning to school to get her Masters of Education. Ms. Nikula’s own high school science teachers helped her develop a love for learning—a curiosity that inspired her to seek out programs like PolarTREC where she can work in the field with scientists and bring her experiences back to her school and community. Ms. Nikula was a TREC teacher in 2004 (Barrow, Alaska) and 2006 (Kuril Islands, Russia).

Mike Etnier - Researcher
University of Washington

Michael Etnier received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Washington in 2002. A zooarchaeologist by training, he uses bones and teeth from archaeological sites to study changes in the ecology of marine ecosystems over the past several thousand years in the North Pacific. Dr. Etnier lives and works in Bellingham, Washington, where he operates a small business that combines his interests in archaeology, marine ecology, and science education.

Jody Bourgeois - Researcher
Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington

Joanne Bourgeois is a Professor in the Earth and Space Sciences Department at the University of Washington. Her main research interests include sedimentary structures and tectonics. Dr. Bourgeois also teaches and researches the history of geology, believing that exploration of how science is done leads to better science. Dr. Bourgeois has also served a two-year term as a Program Director in the Earth Sciences Division of the National Science Foundation.

Ben Fitzhugh - Researcher
University of Washington

Ben Fitzhugh is a Professor of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Washington in Seattle. Dr. Fitzhugh’s research focuses on maritime/coastal hunter-gatherers in the North Pacific and addresses questions of cultural evolution and human-environmental dynamics. Dr. Fitzhugh teaches classes on Archaeological Method and Theory, North and South American Archaeology, Arctic Archaeology, and the Evolution of Inequality.

Kuril Islands Biocomplexity 08 Resources

There are currently no resources associated with this expedition.