Alaska Herpetological Society
Local Knowledge (LK) is that which is derived from localized human experiences on landscapes in proximity to their home. Unlike Indigenous Knowledge (IK) which is a subset of LK, IK more broadly relates to communities without regard to cultural heritage and background. An individual's knowledge is usually strongly linked to culture, but this component of my research does not necessarily aim to understand cultural origins of knowledge beyond the scale of the contempory rural Alaska community of Wrangell.
In Februrary of 2012 a standardized mailed survey following the tenets of the Dillman Tailored Design Method was sent to all 1296 active postal boxes in the community of Wrangell, Alaska to gauge the nature and extent of human-amphibian interactions and local knowledge that may lead to a better understanding of local amphibian populations. Many important insights resulted from this investigation, some of which are included below. In addition, residents were often able to identify specific species and localities of past observations. A follow-up survey was sent in January of 2013 to a 25% sample of previous respondents that provided postal box numbers. The results of the seond survey have yet to be compiled and analyzed.
SENT FEBRUARY 2012 SENT JANUARY 2013
A total of 291 items were returned including 280 completed surveys, resulting in a response rate of 21.6% (n=280). The data from these have yet to be fully entered and analyzed. The resulting data from both surveys will eventually be evaluated using both descriptive and inferential statistics to define:
- The nature of amphibian interactions
- The frequency of amphibian interactions
- Species specific encounters
- Location specific encounters
- Demographic correlations
A Geographic Information System (GIS) project layer will be created to spatially represent contributed observations from this component and for the analysis of correlated data points.
Some interesting preliminary results of the first survey are included in these tables and figures:
Opportunistic Knowledge Gathering
Over the past several years that I have been studying herpetofauna in Alaska, many individuals have contributed amphibian data opprtunitically by means of letters, pictures, emails, stories and word-of-mouth. Though these were received outside of the formal methodologies being utilized to aquire local knowledge in this project, they are non-the-less related and important. They will be included, when possible, within my dissertation to enhance knowledge of amphibians in Alaska AND to analyze the nature and extent of local herpetological knowledge.These contributed observations were made from around the state and are not necessarily in reference to the Stikine region.
In addition to the often unsolicited contributions from the public, I have been formally seeking local knowledge of amphibian populations in other parts of Alaska through my position in the Division of Subsistence at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. I have obtained permission from ADF&G to ask several brief questions of respondents answering questions on Subsistence Harvest Surveys (SHS) in a number of communities. Thus far I have compiled extensive commentary from the communities of Angoon, Hoonah, McCarthy, Trapper Creek, Talkeetna and Skwentna. Next year, I may be able to formally include these questions in the SHS as a collaborative effort to maximize the wildlife information obtained in the course of community visits that would take place regardless. This information will be analyzed and used within my dissertation.