From July 22-August 17, 2016, I visited the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), with funding from the ArCS’ program for overseas visits by young researchers.
During my stay, I conducted observational research on leaf photosynthesis, transpiration, and leaf characteristics (C:N ratio and SPAD) of major plants in Alaskan boreal forests including black spruce and paper birch. These measurements were carried out at two mature forests in UAF and Delta Junction as well as at a forest which had gone through a wildfire 12 years earlier. In mature forest at UAF, black spruce trees, measuring as low as 1 to 4 m, comprised a sparse canopy. This made the forest floor lighter than those of forests in Japan and seemed to me as if it was not a forest. As the bald black spruce trees were leaning “like a drunk”, before I measured photosynthetic rate, I wondered “is it really absorbing carbon dioxide?”. However, once I measured it, I found it was!!
During my stay in Alaska, I have had also great experiences regarding Alaskan nature and culture. Above all, I was impressed with the very large mosquitos in Alaska. They often attacked me when I had to hold instruments to measure photosynthesis. These mosquitos were twice as big as those in Japan! Furthermore, their sting was so painful that I realized when I was stung, which is not often the case in Japan.
During this stay, I have had opportunities to discuss with researchers in the US and get many advises about my research. These are valuable experiences which will help my future study. Finally, I thank the funding program and everyone who supported my research in Alaska.
Narumi Tahara(Osaka Prefecture University *at the time of visit)