Supplemental Request, Grant No. DEB-9505031

Submitted to the National Science Foundation


T. W. Pietsch

14 May 1999

Dear Dr. Siegel-Causey:

I write to request supplemental funds to extend the Kuril Island Project for an additional year, to further our biological work but also to initiate a unique value-added component that provides an entirely new dimension to the project.

While we have made substantial progress in the last five years toward completing our goals, another summer in the northern Kurils—providing an opportunity to survey more intensively several islands that have been only superficially explored to date—would greatly enhance the final outcome of the Kuril Island Project. Time lost due primarily to unusually bad weather during the 1996 and 1997 expeditions prevented more than brief visits to certain islands. For example, we have so far made only a single landing and have spent only a day or less on Alaid, Antsiferova, Makanrushi, Onekotan, Kharimkotan, Chirinkotan, Ekarma, and Shiashkotan. While allowing a broader overview in general, additional time on these northern islands in 2000 will also allow us to collect on the slopes of some of the larger volcanoes (many of the largest and tallest volcanoes are located in this part of the archipelago). What we've been able to do so far in this part of the archipelago is confined more or less to coastal habitats—thus our collections made to date in these localities do not by any means fully represent what is available. Most of our efforts during the up-coming 1999 expedition, scheduled for 16 July through 3 September, will be devoted to the southern tip of Kamchatka—we will not have time to do justice to these still little known northern islands of the chain.

In addition to greatly enhancing our survey work in the Kurils, another summer at the northern end of the chain would provide an opportunity to initiate a new and unique collaboration with Russian, Japanese, and American paleobiologists and archaeologists. Stemming from the recent discovery of a large undisturbed archaeological site on the uninhabited northern Kuril Island of Onekotan, University of Washington biologists and archaeologists, the latter lead by Dr. Ben Fitzhugh of the Department of Anthropology, see an unparalleled opportunity to meld diverse disciplines on an international scale.

The paleobiological aspect of this research will be communicated to you directly and in considerably more detail by Dr. Fitzhugh in a separate SGER proposal being submitted in parallel to this request. We hope you will consider this supplement request, and Dr. Fitzhugh's independent proposal, as a way to provide a more satisfactory close to our five-year program of biotic exploration and to open the door to vast new opportunities in paleobiological research.

It is extremely important that we act on this supplemental request now. The Russian Academy of Sciences requires a commitment for the use of their research vessel at least one calendar year in advance of the proposed expedition. With the expedition planned for July and August 2000, we only have a few weeks left. Without this commitment, the ship could well be assigned to another project and we will lose this unique opportunity.

A budget and budget justification is appended. Thank you for your consideration.

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