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Anchorage, AK, United States

Fidel M.,University of Alaska Anchorage | Kliskey A.,University of Alaska Anchorage | Kliskey A.,University of Idaho | Alessa L.,University of Alaska Anchorage | And 2 more authors.
Polar Geography | Year: 2014

The Bering Sea Sub-Network, a Community-Based Observation Network, was initiated to improve knowledge of environmental changes occurring in the Bering Sea and to enable scientists, Arctic communities and governments to predict, plan and respond. Climate change can affect the health of the social-ecological system of Indigenous communities through negative effects to travel and changes to biological resources used for subsistence. Harvesters are perceptive of, and often have multigenerational knowledge about, the environmental conditions which subsistence activities are dependent upon. Community monitoring can detect local level environmental changes, and provide society with examples of adaptation strategies. Semi-structured interviews, with a participatory mapping component, were used to collect data on marine subsistence activity in Indigenous communities bordering the Bering Sea, in the Russian Federation and Alaska, USA. Spatial data allow exploration of human responses to change over time. In the Yup'ik village of Togiak, Alaska a shift has occurred in recent years in where residents harvest walrus, while seasonal regulations remain static. This may cause residents to travel farther in more dangerous conditions. The co-management system in place could be an effective forum to deal with change as it was structured to incorporate local input in adaptive management. © 2014 © 2014 Taylor & Francis.

Alessa L.,University of Idaho | Alessa L.,University of Alaska Fairbanks | Kliskey A.,University of Idaho | Gamble J.,Aleut International Association | And 3 more authors.
Sustainability Science | Year: 2015

Community-based observing networks (CBONs) use a set of human observers connected via a network to provide comprehensive data, through observations of a range of environmental variables. Invariably, these observers are Indigenous peoples whose intimacy with the land- and waterscape is high. Certain observers can recall events precisely, describe changes accurately, and place them in an appropriate social context. Each observer is akin to a sensor and, linked together, they form a robust and adaptive sensor array that constitutes the CBON. CBONs are able to monitor environmental changes as a consequence of changing ecological conditions (e.g., weather, sea state, sea ice, flora, and fauna) as well as anthropogenic activities (e.g., ship traffic, human behaviors, and infrastructure). Just like an instrumented array, CBONs can be tested and calibrated. However, unlike fixed instruments, they consist of intelligent actors who are much more capable of parsing information to better detect patterns (i.e., local knowledge for global understanding). CBONs rely on the inclusion of Indigenous science and local and traditional knowledge, and we advocate for their inclusion in observing networks globally. In this paper, we discuss the role of CBONs in monitoring environmental change in general, and their utility in developing a better understanding of coupled social-ecological systems and developing decision support both for local communities as well as regional management entities through adaptive capacity indices and risk assessment such as a community-based early warning system. The paper concludes that CBONs, through the practice of Indigenous science in partnership with academic/government scientists for the purpose of knowledge co-production, have the potential to greatly improve the way we monitor environmental change for the purpose of successful response and adaptation. © 2015 Springer Japan

Huntington H.P.,The Clearing | Ortiz I.,University of Washington | Noongwook G.,Savoonga Whaling Captains Association | Fidel M.,Aleut International Association | And 6 more authors.
Deep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography | Year: 2013

Alaska Native coastal communities interact with the marine environment in many ways, especially through the harvest of fish, marine mammals, and seabirds. The spatial characteristics of this interaction are often depicted in terms of subsistence use areas: the places where harvests and associated travel occur. Another way to consider the interaction is to examine the areas where harvested species range during their lifecycle or annual migratory path. In this paper, we compare seasonal subsistence use areas, lifetime subsistence use areas, and "calorie-sheds," or the area over which harvested species range. Each perspective offers useful information concerning not only the nature of human-environment interactions but also the scope for potential conflict with other human activity and the means by which such conflicts could be reduced, avoided, or otherwise addressed. Seasonal subsistence use areas can be used to manage short-term activities, such as seasonal vessel traffic during community re-supply. Lifetime subsistence use areas indicate the area required to allow hunters and fishers the flexibility to adjust to interannual variability and perhaps to adapt to a changing environment. Calorie-sheds indicate the areas about which a community may be concerned due to potential impacts on the species they harvest. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

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