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      Biosphere Reserve Information

United States of America


  General Description   This biosphere reserve in southeastern Alaska consists of two units, Glacier Bay and Admiralty Island. Glacial advance and retreat that have been occurring since the mid Miocene shaped the landscape of the area. The latest episode of ice recession began only 200 years ago and the ice within the Glacier Bay has withdrawn about 95 km during this period.
Plant succession led to the establishment of pioneer plants (lichens, moss, alder, willow, soapberry and cottonwood) closest to the glacier. More mature forest associations of western helmlock (Tsuga heterophylla) and Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) occur at some distance. Admiralty Island comprises one of the greatest remaining blocks of productive old-growth temperate rain forest in the world. Shrublands, freshwater marshes and subtidal meadows are other plant communities found in both units.
The earliest evidence of human occupation in the area dates back some 10,000 years. In the 18th and 19th century, the Tlingits occupied the territory. Then, sporadic settlements arose in connection with European mining, fur-trading, logging, commercial fishing and pioneering. However, the area is only little impacted by humans and therefore gives a unique opportunity to study the plant succession and animal recolonization that follows glacier retreat. Local people have been actively involved in the development and review of the management plans for Glacier Bay National Park and Admiralty Island National Monument.
  Major ecosystem type   Temperate rainforest
  Major habitats & land cover types   Snow-capped mountain ranges; coastal beaches; deep fjords; tidewater glaciers; coastal and estuarine waters; freshwater lakes
  Location   5702' to 5811'N; 13225'W;
5810' to 5915'N; 13515' to 13840'W
  Area (hectares)    
  Total   1,515,015
  Core area(s)  
  Buffer zone(s)  
  Transition area(s) when given  
  Altitude (metres above sea level)   0 to +4,666
  Year designated   1986
  Administrative authorities  

Last updated: 30/01/2002

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