Contact InformationInstitute of Marine Science
P.O. Box 755860
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Fairbanks, AK 99775-5860
Phone: (907) 474-6738
Fax: (907) 474-7979
Matthew Wooller Full Professor
- Water and Environmental Research Center, UAF
- Cooperating Faculty Department of Geology and Geophysics UAF
- Alaska Quaternary Center UAF
- Alaska Stable Isotope Facility
- Institute of Marine Science UAF
- Institute of Northern Engineering
- Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry
- Quaternary Paleoclimate and Paleoecology
- Elemental cycling (C N) and food web ecology
- M.S. University of Wales – Bangor (Ecology)
- Ph.D. University of Wales – Bangor (Ecology)
Office HoursMon, Tues, Thur 10:30-11:30
ISOTOPES IN ECOLOGY CONFERENCE FAIRBANKS ALASKA 9-13th Aug 2010:
Dr. Wooller is an interdisciplinary scientist applying stable isotope techniques to understand the influence of changing environmental conditions on past and present ecosystems. By including a better understanding how modern environments function he hopes to appreciate how the past operated. A better understanding of biotic responses to global change will encourage rigorous testing of environmental models, allowing future environmental scenarios to be assessed.
Dr. Wooller is jointly appointed with the Water and Environmental Research Center at UAF and is the Director of the Alaska Stable Isotope Facility and Director of the Alaska Quaternary Center.
Stable isotope techniques feature as the primary analytical tools that Dr. Wooller uses to study a wide range of environmental and ecological questions. For example these include (see also current project details listed below):
i) The reconstruction of past environmental conditions in the Arctic and sub-Arctic (funded by NSF-ESH, NSF-OPP, Center for Global Change and DOE).
ii) Investigating carbon and nitrogen cycling (past and present) in the mangrove ecosystems of Belize (funded by NSF-Ecosystems).
iii) Studying changes in the migration patterns and diets of animals (including sealions, bowhead whales, eiders) in the Arctic (funded by the North Pacific Research Board, American Fisheries and the Center for Global Change).
Current Research Projects
- Characterization of major watersheds draining into Bristol Bay, Alaska using strontium isotopes: a new method for tracking water resources in Alaska (National Institutes for Water Resources)
We are developing an approach for tracking the use of rivers and streams by salmon. Many of the rivers of Alaska, such as Yukon, Kuskokwim and those flowing into Bristol Bay (Kvichak and Nushagak), support active salmon populations. Salmon use the freshwater resources in rivers and the lakes attached to these rivers as the locations to breed before returning again to the ocean. Salmon frequently return to the same rivers and streams, which means that river-specific populations exist. However, once salmon return to the ocean it is very difficult to tell the different populations apart and to determine which freshwater resources (rivers, streams and lakes) are important to which salmon populations. A State need exists to determine the relative importance of different freshwaters resources in Alaska in terms of the salmon that return to them each year. A State need also exists to be able to tell different salmon populations apart in the ocean, as this is where human activities can have dramatic influences. One of these activities includes catching salmon as bycatch, which is an unfortunate consequence of trawling for other fish species in the ocean (e.g. Pollock). We propose conducting fieldwork to collect salmon and water from Nushagak river, which flows into Bristol Bay, Alaska. We will compile these samples with water and salmon we already have collected from the George, Andrafsky, Yukon, Kuskokwim, Kvichak (supplied to us by our collaborators). We propose measuring the strontium isotope composition of these samples to determine if water and salmon can be used to differentiate salmon in terms of their strontium isotope ratios (87Sr/86Sr) and subsequently pinpoint the identity of the freshwater resources used by these different salmon populations. The strontium isotope composition of a river is dictated by the strontium isotope composition of the geology in the river’s basin. Variation in the geology of different watersheds results in rivers and streams with very different strontium isotope ratios. Preliminary strontium isotope data (supplied to us by our collaborator Dr. Naidu) from water samples collected at the mouths of our six study rivers show that they have different strontium isotope compositions. Organisms that have lived in these different waters will have strontium isotope compositions that reflect the strontium isotope compositions of the river waters. This is a particularly useful hydro-geo-bio chemical relationship for tracking fish back to the river that they originated from. Salmon have ear bones (otoliths) that grow incrementally, like tree rings. By measuring the strontium isotope composition of the earliest rings in a salmon’s otolith it is possible to determine the likely river of origin. This relationship relies on a base map of river strontium isotopes compositions. The approach of mapping strontium isotope values in different rivers and relating this to values in salmon otoliths is actually well established in the literature and has been applied in other parts of the world that have rivers supporting salmon runs. However, this approach has not been widely applied in Alaska. This is partly because there have been insufficient measurements of the strontium isotope composition of waters from rivers and streams in Alaska. Our study will generate strontium isotope compositions for waters from six major tributaries that open into the Eastern Bering Sea and are major birth and rearing rivers of salmon. All of the funds in this proposal are dedicated to supporting fieldwork and research to be conducted by a new graduate student (Sean Brennan) in the Water and Environmental Research Center (WERC) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). We seek correlation between the strontium isotope composition of river water and otoliths in juvenile salmon in these different river waters. The ultimate goal of our study is to develop a technique, based on the hydro-geochemistry of otoliths to relate salmon stocks to the rivers they originated from, which will have practical applications in the management of salmon resources.
- Understanding the role of environmental change on the long- term population dynamics of one surviving and two extinct arctic mammals (National Science Foundation-OPP)
The Arctic is the most sensitive of the planet’s ecosystems to climate change. Recent increases in the rate of environmental change in the Arctic pose considerable challenges to the survival of culturally and economically important, arctic-adapted species such as caribou. An ability to disentangle the roles of extrinsic processes, such as climatic or anthropogenic changes to the arctic habitat, and intrinsic processes, such as density-dependent resource limitation, in the dynamics of populations would provide key insights for conservation and management of the arctic biota. However, such efforts have thus far been hindered by the scarcity of long-term data for natural populations. Here, contemporary evolutionary and ecological approaches are integrated for the first time to produce long-term reconstructions of the population dynamics of one surviving and two extinct and arctic mammals: steppe bison, horses, and caribou. To achieve this, the largest, most densely sampled ancient DNA data sets to date will be produced, focusing on two environmentally distinct arctic localities with exceptional chronological control and detailed paleoenvironmental records going back at least 250,000 years. These data will provide the first opportunity to directly evaluate the role of environmental change on the long-term dynamics and extinction risk of arctic fauna. A near-continuous time series detailing changes in the size and structure of bison, horse and caribou populations will be generated, spanning one complete glacial/interglacial cycle and several periods of major environmental change. Novel analytical techniques will be developed to (a) significantly extend the temporal range of paleogenetic reconstructions; (b) incorporate geographic and ecological data (e.g. stable isotope analyses) explicitly into demographic analyses; and (c) detect and quantify the role of intrinsic and extrinsic processes in the fate of natural populations of large herbivores. In addition, a detailed analysis of evolutionary information in mitochondrial DNA sequences will be performed, using high-throughput sequencing technology and novel experimental methodology to develop the first comparative temporal data set of complete mitochondrial genomes for sympatric (spatially and temporally) species. In addition, understanding how species respond to previous periods of climate change may improve our ability to forecast and mitigate adverse consequences of contemporary climate change for extant arctic species. Although the scientific consensus on climate change is clear, information available to the public is often less so. One aim of this proposal is to increase public knowledge of climate change through public lectures, community meetings, the development of an educational exhibit at the Beringia Interpretive Centre, and the creation of a website hosting the paleoecological database and information accessible to the public about the results of the research. We will illustrate how periods of climate change, such as the transition period just prior to the last glacial maximum, was accompanied by dramatic periods of population growth or decline, local extinctions and changing vegetation communities. These lectures and meetings are expected to reach a wide audience, including Alaskan Native and First Nations people. The proposed research provides training opportunities to graduate and undergraduate students at institutions with established resources to recruit under- represented groups in science including Alaskan Natives (UAF) and women and minorities (PSU: WISER and MURE). Another goal of this research is to develop and make available a comprehensive paleoecological database of for two sites in eastern Beringia. This will include 1000 dated (radiocarbon and/or tephrochronology) bones from horses, steppe bison and caribou, linked to stable carbon isotope composition and morphological measurements as well as consensus and cloned mitochondrial DNA sequences. This database will be an invaluable resource for researchers interested in the preservation and decay of aDNA, the reconstruction of past population dynamics and arctic ecology. In addition, this research will result in novel extensions to the popular, freely available, phylogenetic inference software BEAST, which will enable deeper time reconstructions of demographic history and therefore a much broader diversity of scientific applications.
- TRACKING THE SEASONAL CONTRIBUTION OF ALGAL FATTY ACIDS TO THE ARCTIC MARINE SYSTEM (National Science Foundation-OPP)
Record minima for summer sea ice in the Arctic have recently occurred. The Bering Sea has one of the highest seasonal sea ice regimes in the Arctic and one of the highest rates of observed change. Cascading effects of seasonal changes in sea ice are expected to influence primary production and propagate through marine ecosystems in the Arctic. Our project involves a transformative approach to better track the complex seasonal interdependencies between arctic marine primary production and arctic marine food web components in the Bering Sea. We are tracking the seasonal, proportional contributions of specific biomarkers derived from the two main primary producers sea ice algae and open ocean phytoplankton into higher trophic levels (sympagic, pelagic and benthic invertebrates and ice seals) in the Bering Sea. The overall goal of this project relates to providing an exceptional level of ecological detail by: 1) tracing the seasonal inputs of specific fatty acid biomarkers deriving from sea ice alga and open ocean phytoplankton through the marine food web using sophisticated fatty acid profiling and novel compound-specific stable isotope analyses (CSIA); 2) tracing the seasonal (spring and summer) changes in the proportions of these biomarkers in sympagic, pelagic and benthic arctic marine invertebrates; 3) investigating the presence of these seasonally derived biomarkers in ice seals, which are an important subsistence resource to Alaskan Native communities in the region. Our detailed and seasonal perspective will contribute to ongoing food web studies in the Bering Sea (e.g., the Bering Ecosystem Study and Bering Sea Integrated Ecosystem Research Program - BEST/BSIERP, funded by the NSF and North Pacific Research Board), including research being conducted by the Center for Alaska Native Health Research (CANHR) on marine subsistence resources used by Alaskan Native communities.
- Alaska Stable Isotope Facility
Dr. Wooller is the director of the Alaska Stable isotope Facility
- Alaska Quaternary Center
Dr Wooller serves on the science steering board for the Alaska Quaternary Center.
J. Lenz, Dipl.; M. Fritz, L. Schirrmeister, H. Lantuit, M. J Wooller, W. H Pollard, S. Wetterich, (2013) Periglacial landscape dynamics in the western Canadian Arctic: Results from a thermokarst lake record on a push moraine (Herschel Island, Yukon Territory). PALEO3
Ruo He, M. J. Wooller, J. W. Pohlman, J. Quensen, J. M. Tiedje, M. Beth Leigh (2012) Shifts in identity and activity of methanotrophs in arctic lake sediments in response to temperature changes. AEM
Ruo He, M. J. Wooller, J. W. Pohlman, J. Quensen, J. M. Tiedje, M. Beth Leigh (2012) Diversity of active aerobic methanotrophs along depth profiles of arctic and subarctic lake water column and sediments. ISME Journal.
Ruo He, M. J. Wooller, J. W. Pohlman, J. Quensen, J. M. Tiedje, M. Beth Leigh (2012) Identification of functionally active aerobic methanotrophs in sediments from an arctic lake using stable isotope probing. Environmental Microbiology
Federer R., Hollman T., Estler, D. Wooller M.J. (in press) Stable Carbon and Nitrogen isotope discrimination factors for quantifying Spectacled Eider Nutrien Allocation to egg production. Condor.
Weems, J, Iken, K, Gradinger, R, Wooller, M.J. (in press) Carbon and nitrogen assimilation in the Bering Sea clams Nuculana radiata and Macoma moesta. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology.
M.J. Wooller et al., (2012) Intermittent methane release from a wetland in arctic Alaska during the last ~12,000 years related to environmental change. Journal of Paleolimnology.
M.J. Wooller et al., (2012) An ~11,200 cal yr BP paleolimnological perspective for the archeological findings at Quartz Lake, Alaska. Journal of Paleolimnology.
Larsen, T., O'Brien, D., Fogel, M. and Wooller M.J. (2012) Can amino acid carbon isotope ratios distinguish primary producers in a mangrove ecosystem? Rapid Communications in MS.
Budge, S., Wang, S., Hollman T., and Wooller M.J. (2011) Carbon isotopic fractionation in eider adipose tissue varies with fatty acid structure: Implications for trophic studies. Journal of Experimental Biology.
Gaglioti, B. Barnes, B. Zazula, G. Beaudoin A. Wooller. M. (2011). Late Pleistocene paleoecology of arctic ground squirrel caches and nests from Interior Alaska’s mammoth-steppe ecosystem. Quaternary Research.
Blinnikov, M., Gaglioti, B, Walker, S., Wooller M.J. and Zazula, G. (2011). Pleistocene graminoid-dominated ecosystems in the Arctic. Quaternary Science Reviews.
M.J. Wooller et al. (2011) The detailed paleoecology of a mid-Wisconsinan interstadial (~31,000 14C years) paleo-turf from interior Alaska. Journal of Quaternary Science.
Monacci N., Behling H., Finney, B. Meirs-Groenhagen, U. Wooller M.J. (2011) Paleoecology of mangroves along the Sibun River, Belize. Quaternary Research. 10.1016/j.yqres.2011.06.001
Gaglioti, B. Severin, K. Wooller. M. (2010). Developing graminoid cuticle analysis for application to Beringian paleoecology. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology. TBA.
Federer, R. T.E. Hollmén, D. Esler, M.J. Wooller, and S.W. Wang (2010) Stable Carbon and Nitrogen Isotope Discrimination Factors from Diet to Blood Plasma, Cellular Blood, Feathers, and Adipose Tissue Fatty Acids in Spectacled Eiders (Somateria fischeri), Canadian Journal of Zoology. TBA.
A. Booth, M.J Wooller, T. Howe, N. Haubenstock (2010) Tracing geographic and temporal trafficking patterns for marijuana in Alaska using stable isotopes (C, N, O and H). Forensic Science International. TBA.
J. Finch, M.J Wooller, R. Marchant (in revision) A 40,000-yr record of ecosystem dynamics from the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania. Quaternary Research.
N. Misarti, B. Finney, H. Maschnerb, M. J. Wooller, (2009). Changes in Northeast Pacific marine ecosystems over 4,500 years: Evidence from stable isotope analysis of bone collagen from archaeological middens. Holocene.
O, Heiri, M. J. Wooller, M. van Hardenbroek, and Y. Wang (2009) Stable isotopes in chitinous fossils of aquatic invertebrates. PAGES.
N. Monacci, M.J. Wooller et al. (2009) Mangrove ecosystem changes during the Holocene at Spanish Lookout Cay, Belize. Paleo3.
M.J Wooller et al., (2009). Late Holocene Hydrologic and Ecosystem Changes at Turneffe Atoll, Belize, with comparison to mainland records. PALAIOS.
P.Deines, J. Grey and M.J. Wooller (2009). Isotope markers of benthic food web ecology. Freshwater Biology.
M. Fogel, S. Gudeman, M.J. Wooller (in review) Tracking nitrogen remobilization in decomposing mangrove leaves enriched in 15. Hydrobiologia.
Y. Wang, D. O’Brien, D. Francis Jim Benson and M.J. Wooller (2009) The influence of diet and water on the stable oxygen and hydrogen isotope composition of aquatic organisms (Chironomidae: Diptera) with paleoecological implications. Oecologia. on-line first
S. Hazlett N. Misarti G. McFarlane M.J. Wooller (2009) Determining long-term feeding habits of the spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) using stable isotope analysis. Transactions of the AFS or the AFS North American Fisheries Management Journal.
M. Fogel, M.J. Wooller et al., (2008). Unusually negative nitrogen isotopic compositions (d15N) of mangroves and lichens in an oligotrophic, microbially-influenced ecosystem. Biogeosciences, 5, 1693–1704.
G. Zazula and M.J. Wooller (2008) Comment on "Environmental setting (micro) morphologies and stable C-O isotope composition of cold climate carbonate - a review and evaluation of their potential as paleoclimatic proxies" by Denis Lacelle. Quaternary Science Reviews 26: 1670-1689. QSR 27: 1655-1660.
S.M. Budge, M.J. Wooller et al. (2008) Tracing carbon flow in an arctic marine food web using fatty acid-stable isotope analysis. Oecologia, 157: 117-129.
F.A. Street-Perrott, P. Barker, Leng, M., Sloane, H., M.J. Wooller, Ficken K., Swain, D.L. (2008) Towards an understanding of late Quaternary variations in the continental biogeochemical cycle of silicon: multi-isotope and sediment-flux data for Lake Rutundu, Mt Kenya, East Africa, since 38 ka BP. Journal of Quaternary Science: 23(4): 375-387.
T.W. Bentzen, E. Follmann, S.C. Amstrup, G.S. York, M.J. Wooller, D.C.G. Muir, and T.M. O’Hara (2008). Dietry biomagnification of organochlorine contaminants in Alaskan polar bears. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 86: 177-191.
L. Bremond, A. Alexandre, M.J. Wooller et al. (2008). Phytolith indices as proxies of grass subfamilies on East African tropical mountains. Global and Planetary Change. doi: 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2007.08.016.
Y. Wang, D. O’Brien, D. Francis and M.J. Wooller (2008). A protocol for preparing subfossil Chironomid head capsules (Diptera: Chironomidae) for stable isotope analysis in paleoclimate reconstruction and considerations of contamination sources. Journal of Paleolimnology. on-line.
C.T. Mumbi, R. Marchant, H. Hooghiemstra, M.J. Wooller (2007). Late quaternary reconstruction from the Eastern Arc Mountains, Tanzania. Quaternary Research. doi: 10.10161/j-yqres.2007.10.012
M.J. Wooller Y. Axford and Y. Wang (2007) A multiple stable isotope record of Late Quaternary limnological changes and chironomid paleoecology from northeastern Iceland. Journal of Paleolimnology.
M.J. Wooller R. Morgan S. Fowell H. Behling and M. Fogel (2007) A multi-proxy peat record of Holocene mangrove paleoecology from Twin Cays, Belize. The Holocene.
D. O'Brien D. and M.J. Wooller (2007). Tracking human travel using stable oxygen and hydrogen isotope analyses of hair and urine. Rapid communications in Mass Spectrometry 21: 2422–2430
M. Knoche A.N. Powell M.J. Wooller L. Quakenbush and L.M. Phillips (2007). Further evidence of fidelity to molt site locations by King Eiders: Combining stable isotope analyses and satellite telemetry. Waterbirds 30 (1): 52-57
F.A. Street-Perrott, P. Barker, K. Ficken, M. Wooller et al. (2007), Late Quaternary changes in ecosystems and carbon cycling on Mt. Kenya, East Africa: a landscape-ecological perspective based on multi-proxy lake-sediment fluxes. Quaternary Science Reviews.
T.W. Bentzen E.H. Follmann S.C. Amstrup G.W. York M.J. Wooller and T.M. O’Hara (2007) Variation in winter feeding ecology of southern Beaufort Sea polar bears inferred from stable isotope analysis. Canadian Journal of Zoology
R. Greenberg P. Mara and M.J. Wooller (2007) Stable isotope (C,N,H) analyses locate the unknown winter range of the Coastal Plain Swamp Sparrow (MELOSPIZA GEORGIANA NIGRESCENS). Auk.
M.J. Wooller R. Boone et al. (2007). A survey of the stable isotope (C and N) composition of eastern Beringian grasses and sedges: investing their potential as indicators of past environmental conditions. Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research.
Y. Wang and M.J. Wooller. (2006) The stable isotopic (C and N) composition of modern plants from northern Iceland: with paleoenvironmental implications. JoKull.
J. Briner M.J. Wooller et al. (2006) Multi-proxy lacustrine records of Holocene Environmental change in Arctic Canada. Quaternary Research.65: 431-442.
M.K. Schweizer M. J. Wooller J. Toporski M.L. Fogel, A. Steele. (2006) Examination of an Oligocene lacustrine ecosystem using C and N stable isotopes. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 230: 335 – 351.
M.J. Wooller M. Fogel et al. (2005), Stable isotope characteristics across a sharp ecotone in Wolfe Creek Meteorite Crater, Western Australia: palaeoecological implications. Oecologia.
M.J. Wooller M. Fogel et al. (2004). Mangrove ecosystem dynamics and elemental cycling at Twin Cays, Belize, during the Holocene. Journal of Quaternary Science. 19 (7): 703-711.
M.J. Wooller D. Francis M. L. Fogel G.H. Miller Ian R. Walker Alexander P. Wolfe, (2004) Quantitative paleotemperature estimates from d18O in chironomid head capsules from arctic lake sediment. Journal of Paleolimnology. 31: 267-274.
B. Smallwood M.J. Wooller M. Jacobson M. Fogel (2003). Compound specific stable isotope analyses of R. mangle leaves. Geochemical Transactions. 7: 14 – 27.
M.J. Wooller B. Smallwood U. Scharler M. Jacobson and M. Fogel (2003) Towards a multi-proxy approach to mangrove palaeoecology: A taphonomic study of d13C and d15N values in R. mangle leaves. Organic Geochemistry. 34: 1259-1275
M.J. Wooller B. Smallwood M. Jacobson and M. Fogel (2003) Carbon and nitrogen stable isotopic variation in Laguncularia racemosa from Florida and Belize: Implications for trophic level studies. Hydrobiologia. 499: 13-23.
M. J. Wooller D.L. Swain K. Ficken A.D.Q. Agnew and F.A. Street Perrott (2003) Late Quaternary environmental change on Mount Kenya: multi-proxy evidence from Lake Rutundu. Journal of Quaternary Science 18(1) 3-15.
K.J. Ficken M.J. Wooller D.L. Swain F.A. Street-Perrott and Eglinton G. (2002) Reconstruction of a sub-alpine grass dominated ecosystem, Lake Rutundu, Mount Kenya: A novel multi-proxy approach. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology (special issue). 177: 137-149.
M.J. Wooller and K. Beuning (guest editors) (2002) Introduction to the reconstruction and modelling of grass dominated environments. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 2708: 1-3.
M.J. Wooller (2002) A method for the analysis of grass cuticles from lacustrine sediment cores. The Holocene, 12, 1: 107-115.
M.J. Wooller and A.D.Q. Agnew (2002) Changes in graminoid stomatal morphology over the last glacial-interglacial transition: evidence from Mount Kenya, East Africa. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 2716: 1-14.
A.D.Q. Agnew and M.J. Wooller (2001) New and interesting records of grasses and sedges in Kenya. Journal of East African Natural History. 91: 75-84.
M.J. Wooller A.D.Q. Agnew S. Mathai D.L. Swain and F.A. Street-Perrott (2001) An altitudinal and stable carbon isotope survey of grasses on Mount Kenya, East Africa. Journal of East African Natural History. 90: 69-85.
M.J. Wooller B. Collins M.L. Fogel (2001) The elemental analyzer sample carousel: Loading an autosampler made easy. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry. 15: 1-3.
M. J. Wooller and K. Beuning (2001) Workshop Report: Paleo-Grassland Research (PGR) 2000: a conference on the reconstruction and modelling of past grass dominated ecosystems. PAGES News. 9: 16-17.
M. J. Wooller (2001) contributions In: J. A. Matthews et al. (editor), The Encyclopedic Dictionary of Environmental Change. Edward Arnold.
M. J. Wooller F.A. Street-Perrott A.D.Q. Agnew (2000) Late Quaternary fires and grassland palaeoecology of Mt. Kenya, East Africa: Evidence from charred grass cuticles in lake sediments. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 164: 207-230.
M. J. Wooller. (2000), Reconstructing past grasslands using grass cuticles: an optimum size (area) for micromorphological investigation. Swansea Geographer. 35: 9-17.