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216 Irving 1
PO Box 757020
2140 Koyukuk Drive
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Fairbanks, AK 99775-7020

907.474.7872 FAX
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27 November 2021
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• About AKCFWRU •
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Unit Faculty
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Unit Postdocs
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Unit Staff
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Unit Students
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Unit Publications
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Unit Photo Gallery
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Jobs Board
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Annual Research Review
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Unit Cooperators

Cooperative Research
Units Home Page

Alaska Unit Home Page

ADF&G logo
Alaska Department of Fish and Game

USFWS logo
US Fish and Wildlife Service

US Geological Survey

WMI logo
Wildlife Management Institute

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April 2021: The AKCFWRU website is currently under construction, and we realize that much of the content is out of date. Please be patient as we move to the new UA web system. Our new and up to date website will be published in Summer 2021 – Thanks!

About the Alaska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

The Cooperative Units: A Brief History

The Alaska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit is part of a nationwide program dating back to 1935 when the first Units were formed under cooperative agreements between the U.S. Biological Survey [predecessor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)], state conservation agencies, land grant universities, and the Wildlife Management Institute (WMI). These Units were created to foster college-level research and graduate student training in support of science-based management of fish and wildlife and their habitats.

In 1960, Congress passed the Cooperative Units Act (P.L. 86-686), authorizing the Unit program as a line item in the budget of the FWS. By Executive action, the Units were moved from the FWS to the newly formed National Biological Service (NBS) in 1994, then to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in 1996 when the NBS was incorporated into the USGS as the Biological Resources Division (BRD), now known as the Ecosystems Mission Area.

Today, there are 40 Units located in 38 states, each existing under its own cooperative agreement. The general program of a Unit is directed by a Coordinating Committee consisting of USGS/Ecosystems, state, university and Wildlife Management Institute representatives. In Alaska, the US Fish and Wildlife Service retains non-voting membership in the Coordinating Committee. Units are staffed by a Unit Leader and one or more Assistant Leaders who are PhD-level scientists employed by USGS and appointed to the faculty of the sponsoring university. Unit scientists conduct research, advise graduate students, and teach one graduate course annually. Other faculty cooperate in the program by conducting Unit-sponsored research.

Each university provides offices, facilities, and support staff for its Unit. The state conservation agency provides its Unit with annual base funding for operations and funding and in-kind support for research projects. WMI supports the Unit program through its influence nationwide.

Structure and Function of the Alaska Unit

The Alaska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit was formed in 1991 by the merger of the Alaska Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit (est. 1950) and the Alaska Cooperative Fishery Research Unit (est. 1978). The Alaska Unit exists by cooperative agreement between the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG), University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), USGS, FWS, and WMI.

With offices in the Laurence Irving Building on the West Ridge of the UAF campus, the Alaska Unit is an administrative component of the UAF Institute of Arctic Biology (IAB). Unit scientists hold positions as faculty with IAB and have teaching appointments with the Department of Biology and Wildlife or the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. Unit staff consists of a Unit Leader, four Assistant Leaders, a Fiscal Professional, and an Administrative Generalist.

Alaska Unit research emphasizes terrestrial and aquatic ecology of arctic and subarctic ecosystems. The mission of the Unit is understanding the ecology of Alaska’s fish and wildlife; evaluating impacts of land use and development on these resources; and relating effects of social and economic needs to production and harvest of natural populations.

In addition to the expected Unit functions of graduate student training/instruction and technical assistance, research efforts are directed at problems of productivity, socioeconomic impacts, and perturbation on fish and wildlife population, their habitats and ecosystems. Unit research also includes integrated studies of fish and wildlife at the ecosystem level.

Cooperator Support: The Key to Success

UAF, ADFG, and USGS each make substantial financial contributions to the continuing operation of the Alaska Unit. This partnership is the key to the success of the Unit: each of the partners bears part of the cost but receives the whole of the benefit. The benefit comes as products: research published in peer- reviewed journals; students trained as entry-level professionals; and technical assistance provided by recognized experts.

UAF annually provides administrative funds for Unit business operations, including the salaries and benefits of UAF support staff. UAF/IAB also provides laboratory and storage space in support of Unit research projects. In recognition of the contributions of ADFG and USGS to this partnership, UAF substantially reduces the indirect costs (overhead) charged to Unit grants and contracts.

The ADFG Divisions of Sport Fish and Wildlife Conservation provide funds annually for support of Unit operations and research projects. In addition, ADFG also provides funding and in-kind support of graduate students, often as part of its own operations. This arrangement gives agency-based experience to students.

USGS pays the salaries and benefits of the Unit scientists located at the Alaska Unit. In addition, a modest operating fund may be provided annually.

Unit Personnel Compete for Research

The annual support for the Alaska Unit does not cover the costs of much of the research program. Most Unit research funds are acquired by Unit scientists and cooperating faculty through competitive research proposals. These funds come from a variety of state and federal agencies, as well as international organizations and private foundations.

Proposals are submitted by one or more lead scientists [Principal Investigators (PIs)] through UAF to the funding agency. Research topics may be basic in nature but are always aimed at a resource management problem. All research projects must support the mission of the Alaska Unit and be approved by the Unit Coordinating Committee.

Proposal budgets usually include stipends and tuition for graduate students who work under the direction of the PI and use data from the project for an MS or PhD thesis. Federal agencies award research funds through USGS to UAF using the Research Work Order, a funding mechanism authorized by Congress specifically for the Cooperative Units. ADFG and other agencies of the State of Alaska award funds for Unit projects using the Reimbursable Services Agreement.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks is an AA/EO employer and educational institution and prohibits illegal discrimination against any individual.
Learn more about UA's notice of nondiscrimination.

Biology & Wildlife Department Institute of Arctic Biology School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences University of Alaska Fairbanks