The interpretation of the extent of late Wisconsin glaciation in southeastern Alaska has varied between geologists and biologists. Maps and reports of the region prepared by geologists commonly indicated that late Wisconsin ice extended as a large uniform front west to the edge of the continental shelf. However, the distribution of plants and animals in the region has led many biologists to suggest that there may have been ice-free areas that served as refugia during the late Wisconsin. Based on analyses of aerial photographs, topographic maps, and bathymetric charts, in conjunction with a review of previous literature and reconnaissance fieldwork throughout the region, this study presents data supporting a limited ice extent in the Alexander Archipelago during the late Wisconsin and identifies possible ice-free areas that may have served as refugia. These areas include (1) the Fairweather Ground, (2) the Herbert Graves Island area, (3) the western coast of southern Baranof Island and adjacent continental shelf, (4) Coronation Island and the adjacent continental shelf, (5) the Warren Island area, (6) the continental shelf from west of Heceta Island to Forrester Island in the south, (7) parts of the west coast of southern Dall Island, and (8) lowland areas in southern Prince of Wales Island. The identification of these possible refugia has bearing on the recolonization of the Alexander Archipelago, as they could have served as centers of biotic dispersal upon regional deglaciation and as stepping stones for early humans with a maritime tradition entering the western hemisphere from Asia. ?? 2007 NRC Canada.
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Possible refugia in the Alexander Archipelago of southeastern Alaska during the late Wisconsin glaciation