Sitka Natural History Seminar Series

Started by Matt Goff and Kitty LaBounty as a series of talks supporting a 1 credit birding seminar at Sheldon Jackson College in Fall 2006, in Spring 2007, the topics began expanding to a more general Natural History them (with a continuing focus on Southeast Alaska).

In 2007, a small grant from the Sitka Charitable Trust was awarded to the college for the purpose of paying for travel costs for invited speakers, greatly expanding the scope of possibilities.

Unfortunately the college somewhat abruptly shut its doors that summer, but Kitty LaBounty took on the project of helping to (re)organize the seminar series in a way that allowed it to continue, in partnership with the Sitka Sound Science Center and the University of Alaska Southeast. Kitty has continued to coordinate the series in the decade plus that has followed. She has worked to bring a diverse set of speakers each year, often housing those from out of town.

After 14 years and over 150 presentations, the Covid-19 pandemic necessitated a bit of a break for the dedicated group of regulars, and many other attendees who attended the talks, .

It’s unclear when live (in person) seminars may happen in Sitka again, however Kitty has been working with the Evening at Egan lecture series team to bring speakers she would otherwise have invited to the Sitka Natural History Series to their virtual seminars in Fall 2020.

Selected Promotional Flyers from the First Year


Year 1: 2006-2007 (14 seminars)
(at Sheldon Jackson College)

  • September 2006 Matt Goff: Sitka Birds, Birders, and Birding
  • October 2006 Kitty LaBounty: Backyard Birds: Attracting Birds to your Backyard and How Your Observations can Contribute to Science.
  • October 2006 Dr. Victoria Vosburg: Inside Birds: A Look at Avian Anatomy and Physiology
  • October 2006 Carrie Hisaoka: Scaup Talk: Researching the Nesting Ecology of the Lesser Scaup
  • November 2006 Matt Kirchoff: Southeast Alaska’s Signature Bird – The Marbled Murrelet
  • November 2006 Michelle Kissling and Steve Lewis: Hoo’s Out There? Monitoring Nocturnal Owls in Southeast Alaska
  • December 2006 Andrew Thoms: Warblers in Winter: Tropical Birdwatching and Dendroica Evolution
  • January 2007 Matt Goff: A Look at the Birds of Sitka: Observations from the Past and Present
  • February 2007 Geoff Smith: The Southern Ocean and Antarctica: An Avian Adventure
  • February 2007 Dr. Mary Willson: A Song in all Seasons: Natural History of the American Dipper
  • March 2007 Dr. Marv De Jong: Long Ago and Far Away: Measuring Astronomical Age and Distance
  • April 2007 Scott Harris: Chile con Pájaros: Birds of the Southern Temperate Rain Forest
  • April 2007 Paul Hennon: A Tale of Two Cedars: Life and Death of Cedars in Southeast Alaska (in cooperation with Sitka Conservation Society)
  • April 2007 Alexia Stevens: A Little Bird Told Me: Learning to Understand What the Birds are Saying

Year 2: 2007-2008 (11 Seminars)
(Partnership with UAS and SSSC – first year of funding by Sitka Charitable Trust)

  • October 2007 Kevin White: Mountain Goat Biology
  • October 2007 Richard Carstensen: Biogeography of Southeast Alaska
  • November 2007 Michelle Kissling: The Elusive Kittlitz’ Murrelet
  • Novermber 2007 Richard Nelson: Deer in North America
  • December 2007 John Hudson: Dragonflies of Southeast Alaska
  • January 2008 Jennifer Adlemann: Alaska’s Volcano Observatory
  • February 2008 Dr. Dave Person: Wolf Ecology in Southeast Alaska
  • March 2008 Dr. Mary Willson: Vertebrate Frugivores of Southeast Alaska
  • April 2008 Jonathan Goff: Introduction to Tracking
  • May 2008 Dr. Thomas Ager: Vegetation History of Southeast Alaska
  • June 2008 Alexia Stevens: Bird Language

Year 3: 2008-2009 (10 seminars)

  • September, 2008 Dr. Derek Sikes: The Little Things that Rule the World
  • October 2008 Tom Paul: Tweaking Island Biogeography
  • November 2008 Dr. Jason Turner: Marine Protected Species
  • December 2008 Dr. Richard Nelson: Australian Birds
  • January 2009 Dave D’Amore & Rick Edwards: Climate and Carbon Cycles
  • February 2009 Dr. Natalie Dawson: Bears, Weasels, and Lemmings, Oh My!
  • March 2009 Joel Curtis: Climate and Weather of the Outer Coast
  • April 2009 Dr. Cathy Connor: This Dynamic Earth: the View from Sitka
  • April 2009 Dr. Mary Stensvold: Millions of Moonworts
  • May 2009 Karen Dillman: From Fairy Cups to Old Men’s Beards

Year 4: 2009-2010 (10 seminars)

  • July 2009 John Hudson: How to Identify Local Dragonflies
  • September 2009 Steve Trudell: Fungi in Forest Ecosystems
  • October 2009 Dr. Roman Motyka: Southeast’s Glaciers
  • November 2009 Dr. Mark Wipfli: Rainforest-River-Ocean Connections
  • December 2009 Phil Mooney: Overview of Wildlife Species of the ABC Islands
  • January 2010 Steve Lewis: Karst Resources
  • February 2010 Dr. Jeremy Matthes: Ocean Acidification
  • April 2010 Michael McClellan: TWYGS: Tongass Wide Young Growth Survey
  • April 2010 Brad Buckley: Marine Mammal Protection Act
  • May 2010 Dr. Link Olson: Alaska’s Alpine Mammals

Year 5: 2010-2011 (8 seminars)

  • September 2010 Toby Spribille: Lichens of Southeastern Alaska
  • October 2010 Aaron Shaffer: Refugia, Mountains and Radiocollars: Patterns of Genetic Differentiation in Moutain Goats
  • November 2010 Dr. David Arnold: Wild Salmon and Wild Fisherman
  • December 2010 Jan Straley: A thirty year Perspective on Humpback Whales in southeastern Alaska
  • February 2011 Paul Hennon: Yellow Cedar: The Canary in the Coalmine
  • March 2011 Kathy Hocker: Aquatic Insects
  • April 2011 Sandra Lindstrom: Seaweeds of Sitka Sound: Past, Present and Future
  • May 2011 Dr Paul Alaback: Project Budburst

Year 6: 2011-2012 (8 seminars)

  • September 2011 Joel Curtis: Tsunamis – The Great Waves –Southeast Alaska Past and Future
  • October 2011 Dr. Derek Sikes: Extreme Survivors: Insect communities after the eruption of Kastochi volcano
  • November 2011 Delphine Mathias: Whale Depredation
  • December 2011 Karen Blejwas: The Sounds of Silence: Echo Locating Southeast Alaska’s Bat
  • January 2012 Dean Orbison: Sitka Hydroelectric Power Generation 101
  • February 2012 Kevin O’Malley: Everything leaves a track and every track tells a story
  • April 2012 Deborah Rudis: Gardening for Alaska’s Pollinators
  • April 2012 Dr. Jim Bodkin: Sea Otter Recovery, Ecology and Management

Year 7: 2012-2013 (12 seminars)

  • August 2012 Bob Armstrong: Connections in Nature
  • October 2012 Dr. Bernhard Peucker-Ehrenbrink: The Global Rivers Observatory
  • October 2012 Joel Curtis: What? Thundersnow?
  • October 2012 Dr. Shannon Atkinson: Dem Bones: Making the most of stranded marine mammals
  • November 2012 Dr. Dave Tallmon: What can the Fish of Auke Creek tell us about adaptation to warming streams in Southeast AK?
  • December 2012 Kevin White & Phil Mooney: Mountain Goat Research and Conservation on Baranof Island
  • January 2013 Dr. Natalia Ruppert: Earthquakes along the Queen Charlotte Fault
  • February 2013 Jim Baichtal: Changing Shorelines and the Search for Early Habitation Sites
  • February 2013 Guy Archibald: Transboundary Mining
  • March 2013 Dr. Todd Brinkman: Intergrating the Social, Ecological and Genetic Dimensions of Sitka Black-tailed Deer and Deer Hunting in Southeast Alaska
  • March 2013 Ron Holthuysen: Dead Animals in alcohol and other fun Projects
  • April 2013 David Tessler: Black Oystercatchers: Ecology and History in Sitka Sound

Year 8: 2013-2014 (11 seminars)

Year 9: 2014-2015 (13 seminars)

  • September 2014 Dr. Nancy Huntley: Human Ecology and Natural History in the Western Gulf of Alaska
  • September 2014 Kate Mohat: Mushrooms of Alaska’s Southern Coasts
  • October 2014 Dr. Michael Lanno: Life, Death, and Life of the Crawfish Frog
  • November 2014 Gwen Baluss: Birds in the Hand and Bush: Monitoring Land Bird Populations
  • December 2014 Richard Nelson and Hank Lentfer: Learning to Listen, through the Art of Recording
    • interview with Richard Nelson on the Sitka Nature Show part 1 | part 2
  • January 2015 Dr. Jim Powell: Mathematics and the Life Impaired: Theory of Disease
  • February 2015 Dennis Landwehr: Landslides in Southeast Alaska
  • March 2015 Colleen Flanagan: Merging Art with Environmental Science
  • March 2015 Dr. Shingo Hamada: Herring Fisheries and Food Culture in Japan
  • March 2015 Dr. Byron Weckworth: The Alexander Archipelago Wolf
  • April 2015 Phil Mooney: Human Bear Conflicts: Pioneering work with Electrical Weapons
  • May 2015 Ron Medel: Salmon Production in the Tongass National Forest
  • May 2015 Dr. Julia Parrish: The Natural History of Dead Birds

Year 10: 2015-2016 (12 seminars)

  • September 2015 Noah Siegel: To Live and to Die for: Edible, Poisonous and Dye Mushrooms of Southeast Alaska
  • October 2015 Mathilde Thierry: Conserving threatened arctic fox populations in Norway through captive breeding and reintroduction
  • November 2015 Matt Goff, Gwen Baluss et. al: Birding Alaska
  • December 2015 Dr. Andy Szabo: Insights into the Ecology of Southeast Alaska’s Humpback Whales
  • January 2016 Catie Bursh: Phytoplankton: Microscopic Powerhouse of the seas; It’s their world, we’re just living in it
  • January 2016 Dan Evans and Eric Speck: Epic Journey to Port Alexander
  • February 2016 Dr. Allen Pope: How Satellites are Changing What we Know about Ice
  • February 2016 Dr. Dave MaMahan: Wreck of the Neva
  • March 2016 Katherine Prussian and Jacqueline Foss: Landslides in Sitka
  • April 2016 Dan Evans and Eric Speck: Encore presentation of Epic Journey to Port Alexander
  • April 2016 Dr. Jennifer Purcell: Jellyfish in Changing Oceans
  • May 2016 Dr. Susan Karl: Geology of Baranof Island: Faults, Volcanoes and Gold

Year 11: 2016-2017 (14 seminars)

Year 12: 2017-2018 (13 seminars)

  • August 2017 Gino Graziano: Sitka’s Invasive Plants: Species Present, Species to Watch out for and What You Can Do About It
  • August 2017 Dr. Thomas Quinn: Predation by Bears on Salmon: Behavior, Evolution and Ecology
  • October 2017 Dr. Aleck Petty: Rapid Declines in Arctic Sea Ice Cover and What Does this Mean for Alaska
  • October 2017 Harvey Kitka, Jon Martin, Phil Mooney and Richard Nelson: Natural History of Sitka Black-tailed Deer
  • November 2017 Gwen Baluss, Matt Goff: Winter Birding 101
  • December 2017 Dr. Sara Robinson: Spalted Wood: from ancient art to modern science
  • January 2018 Andrew Von Duyke: Arctic Wanderers: a quest for understanding ring seal habitat use
  • February 2018 Dr. Kristy Kroeker: Sea Change- Scaling up effects of ocean acidification from individuals to ecosystems
  • March 2018 Dr. Brian Buma: Southeast Alaskan Forests: Landslides, Wind and big Carbon
  • March 2018 Janet Neilson: Whale Tales from Glacier Bay& Icy Strait
  • April 2018 Steve Delehanty: The Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge: St. Lazaria Island, A Little Piece to a Big Puzzle!
  • April 2018 Erik de Jong, Frances Brann: Exploring the Central Arctic Ocean
  • April 2018 Elizabeth Graham: What’s Bugging our Spruce?

Year 13: 2018-2019 (11 seminars)

  • August 2018 Ron Hamill: Fungi and their Habitats in Southeast Alaska
  • September 2018 Sam David: Mushroom Poisoning and Mycotoxins: The bad side to eating mushrooms and moldy food
  • October 2018 Dr. Rachel Lauer: presenting Fault zones and fluid flow beneath the seafloor: Queen Charlotte Fairweather Fault
  • November 2018 Sam Rabung: Interactions between Alaska’s wild and hatchery produced salmon in Southeast Alaska
  • December 2018 Matt Goff: Big Days, Rare Birds, and Remarkable Weather, a Sitka Nature Year in
  • Review 
  • February 2019 Matt Fiske: Finding and Firing: Prospecting for Ceramic Art
  • February 2019 Phil Mooney: A Year in the Life of a Bear
  • March 2019 Hans Thewissen: What Whales Hear, See, and Smell: Bowheads and belugas on Alaska’s North slope
  • April 2019 Students from Alaska Dive Semester: Highlights from Training and Semester Studies
  • April 2019 Dr. Andres Lopez: A Glimpse Into Alaska’s Hidden Freshwater Fish Biodiversity
  • April 2019 Robert Lempert, Ryan Brown, and Josh Roering: Developing a Landslide Warning System in Sitka
  • May 2019: Tory Rhoads: All About Bats in Southeast Alaska

Year 14: 2019-2020 (8 seminars)

  • August 2019 Ben Burford and Lauren Wild: Causes and Consequences of California Market Squid Proliferation in the Gulf of Alaska
  • September 2019 Dr. Christa Mulder: Tales of the Unexpected: Phenology of Boreal Berry-Producing Plants under Climate Change
  • September 2019 Dr. Kaeli Swift: Something to Crow About
  • September 2019 Dr. Annette Patton: Understanding Landslides in Southeast Alaska
  • October 2019 Dr. John Harley: Can We Predict Harmful Algal Blooms?
  • October 2019 Dr. Tom Thornton: What do Alpine Cairns Have to Teach Us About the Natural
  • History of Southeast Alaska and Human Adaptation to Environmental Change?
  • November 2019 Stacy Golden: Teacher at Sea with the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge: A trip through the Aleutians and Pribilofs
  • November 2019 Matt Callahan, Rhea Ehresmann and Dr. Anne Beaudreau: Sablefish: The Honey Badgers of the Sea

Year 15: 2020-2021 (?? seminars)