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Olsen J.B.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | Crane P.A.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | Flannery B.G.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | Dunmall K.,Kawerak Inc. | And 2 more authors.
Conservation Genetics | Year: 2011

We examined the assumption that landscape heterogeneity similarly influences the spatial distribution of genetic diversity in closely related and geographically overlapping species. Accordingly, we evaluated the influence of watershed affiliation and nine habitat variables from four categories (spatial isolation, habitat size, climate, and ecology) on population divergence in three species of Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, O. kisutch, and O. keta) from three contiguous watersheds in subarctic North America. By incorporating spatial data we found that the three watersheds did not form the first level of hierarchical population structure as predicted. Instead, each species exhibited a broadly similar spatial pattern: a single coastal group with populations from all watersheds and one or more inland groups primarily in the largest watershed. These results imply that the spatial scale of conservation should extend across watersheds rather than at the watershed level which is the scale for fishery management. Three independent methods of multivariate analysis identified two variables as having influence on population divergence across all watersheds: precipitation in all species and subbasin area (SBA) in Chinook. Although we found general broad-scale congruence in the spatial patterns of population divergence and evidence that precipitation may influence population divergence in each species, we also found differences in the level of population divergence (coho > Chinook and chum) and evidence that SBA may influence population divergence only in Chinook. These differences among species support a species-specific approach to evaluating and planning for the influence of broad-scale impacts such as climate change. © 2010 US Government.


Background. Indigenous residents of Alaska's Bering Strait Region depend, both culturally and nutritionally, on ice seal and walrus harvests. Currently, climate change and resultant increases in marine industrial development threaten these species and the cultures that depend on them. Objective. To document: (a) local descriptions of the importance of marine mammal hunting; (b) traditional methods for determining if harvested marine mammals are safe to consume; and (c) marine mammal outcomes that would have adverse effects on community health, the perceived causes of these outcomes, strategies for preventing these outcomes and community adaptations to outcomes that cannot be mitigated. Design. Semi-structured interviews and focus groups were conducted with 82 indigenous hunters and elders from the Bering Strait region. Standard qualitative analysis was conducted on interview transcripts, which were coded for both inductive and deductive codes. Responses describing marine mammal food safety and importance are presented using inductively generated categories. Responses describing negative marine mammal outcomes are presented in a vulnerability framework, which links human health outcomes to marine conditions. Results. Project participants perceived that shipping noise and pollution, as well as marine mammal food source depletion by industrial fishing, posed the greatest threats to marine mammal hunting traditions. Proposed adaptations primarily fell into 2 categories: (a) greater tribal influence over marine policy; and (b) documentation of traditional knowledge for local use. This paper presents 1 example of documenting traditional knowledge as an adaptation strategy: traditional methods for determining if marine mammal food is safe to eat. Conclusions. Participant recommendations indicate that 1 strategy to promote rural Alaskan adaptation to climate change is to better incorporate local knowledge and values into decision-making processes. Participant interest in documenting traditional knowledge for local use also indicates that funding agencies could support climate change adaptation by awarding more grants for tribal research that advances local, rather than academic, use of traditional knowledge. © 2013 Lily Gadamus.


Ray L.,Kawerak Inc | Ray L.,Clark University | Ray L.,University of Alaska Fairbanks
Sustainability: Science, Practice, and Policy | Year: 2011

Sustainable resource management depends upon the participation of resource-dependent communities. Competing values between community members and government agencies and among groups within a community can make it difficult to find mutually acceptable management goals and can disadvantage certain resource users. This study uses Q-methodology to discover groups with shared perspectives on wildfire policy in the Koyukon Athabascan villages of Galena and Huslia, Alaska. Before the study, participants appeared to disagree over the amount of wildfire suppression needed, but Q-method results showed three perspectives united around deeper, less oppositional concerns: Caucasian residents and resource managers who preferred natural processes; older Koyukon residents concerned about losing local control, small animals, and cultural places; and younger Koyukon residents who felt subsistence activities were resilient to social-ecological change. Additionally, both Koyukon groups suspected it was cheaper to suppress all wildfires while small. These results imply that community frustration with wildfire management may be reduced through collaborative research with Koyukon elders on locally important issues, cultural site mapping in order to extend some level of wildfire protection, and greater agency transparency about wildfire-suppression costs. The results also indicate that age may be an understudied driver of community resource-use preferences. This study proposes that without identifying resource user-interest groups and their main concerns, it is difficult to develop equitable environmental goals. It shows how Q-methodology provides a systematic approach for identifying the stakeholders and issues needed in resource management. © 2011 Ray.


Olsen P.M.,University of Idaho | Kolden C.A.,University of Idaho | Gadamus L.,Kawerak Inc.
Remote Sensing | Year: 2015

There is a lack of information regarding critical habitats for many marine species, including the bearded seal, an important subsistence species for the indigenous residents of Arctic regions. A systematic approach to modeling marine mammal habitat in arctic regions using the lifetime and multi-generational Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) of Alaska Native hunters is developed to address this gap. The approach uses lifetime and cross-generational knowledge of subsistence hunters and their harvest data in the place of observational knowledge gained from Western scientific field surveys of marine mammal sightings. TEK information for mid-June to October was transformed to seal presence/pseudo-absence and used to train Classification Tree Analyses of environmental predictor variables to predict suitable habitat for bearded seals in the Bering Strait region. Predictor variables were derived from a suite of terrestrial, oceanic, and atmospheric remote sensing products, transformed using trend analysis techniques, and aggregated. A Kappa of 0.883 was achieved for habitat classifications. The TEK information used is spatially restricted, but provides a viable, replicable data source that can replace or complement Western scientific observational data. © 2015 by the authors.


Gadamus L.,Kawerak Inc. | Raymond-Yakoubian J.,Kawerak Inc. | Ashenfelter R.,Kawerak Inc. | Ahmasuk A.,Kawerak Inc. | And 2 more authors.
Marine Policy | Year: 2015

Habitat conservation is a priority for many tribes, and indigenous local experts develop environmental policy goals based on their traditional knowledge of animal habitat use and habitat change. An indigenous evidence-base for ice seal and walrus habitat conservation in the Bering Strait region of Alaska was built by using qualitative methods to document the knowledge of 82 local expert seal and walrus hunters. Local experts produced detailed descriptions of seal and walrus habitat use and drivers of change in key habitat features, as well as policy goals based on indigenous evidence. These indigenous habitat policy goals are compared to U.S. government policies and differences are explored in terms of the indigenous evidence-base. © 2015 Published by Elsevier Ltd.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: ARCTIC SOCIAL SCIENCES | Award Amount: 232.75K | Year: 2014

Awaiting PI Draft


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: SHIP OPERATIONS | Award Amount: 30.00K | Year: 2016

This award supports a workshop designed to explore indigenous perspectives on scientific research and research processes in western Alaska. The workshop will focus on: a) the types of scientific research being conducted in and near indigenous communities of the Kawerak region; b) how these studies are being conducted, whether collaboratively with communities or not; c) and to elicit the impressions and suggestions of indigenous communities about the science being conducted in their region and how they might engage more directly with the scientists and their projects.

The workshop will bring together approximately 20 individuals, most of whom will be Alaska Native people from western Alaska who are involved in scientific research and knowledgeable of the research being conducted in the region. Additional workshop participants will include other science research stakeholders, including some of the scientists doing research in the region. The workshop organizers will structure the multi-day workshop around the topics and objectives outlined above. A report summarizing and analyzing the results of the workshop will be produced which addresses the main research topics and questions and suggests avenues for future research on this topic. An additional goal for the workshop is to lay some of the groundwork for a full research project that would be a meta-study of scientific research in Alaska Native communities from an anthropological perspective.

In addition, the NSF Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE), Ship Operations Program, is contributing to the workshop; the Kawerak Region is on the Bering Sea and the program is very interested in ways that ship-based science can engage local people, primarily Alaska Native communities, in their research projects. These specific questions will be one of the topics of discussion for the workshop.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 301.39K | Year: 2011

The ice seal and walrus populations of the Bering Sea, as well as the subsistence users who utilize them, currently face many challenges. These include loss of sea ice and the expansion of development, fisheries activities, and marine shipping in the northern Bering Sea. Concern over the future of these species is growing, but existing science cannot conclusively predict how these factors will affect ice seals and walrus or the communities that depend on them. Local knowledge of the ecology and biogeography of these species, in addition to local use patterns, may help communities and policy makers understand current and future impacts of these environmental and anthropogenic changes.

This is a community based research project through Kawerak Inc., the Alaska Native regional non-profit corporation. As part of this project, Kawerak researchers will be working with local community members to implement ethnographic and GIS spatial mapping methods in order to increase our understanding of Bering Strait region Iñupiat, Central Yupik, and St. Lawrence Island Yupik relationships with two important subsistence resources, ice seals and walrus whose habitat is being affected by environmental change. Through mapping spatial and temporal knowledge of ice seal and walrus habitat and ecology and subsistence use area, documenting the cultural importance of hunting ice seals and walrus, as well as the challenges to subsistence ice seal and walrus hunting (as seen by hunters), the project will contribute to an increased understanding of the complexity of social-environmental dynamics in the Arctic. The project will give a voice to local analyses and solutions of these problems which will in turn inform wildlife managers and policy makers. In addition, the project will contribute to an Arctic Atlas of Important Ecological Areas (IEAs) being developed by the international conservation group Oceana, which will in turn be a tool for the regions communities.


PubMed | Kawerak Inc.
Type: | Journal: International journal of circumpolar health | Year: 2013

Indigenous residents of Alaskas Bering Strait Region depend, both culturally and nutritionally, on ice seal and walrus harvests. Currently, climate change and resultant increases in marine industrial development threaten these species and the cultures that depend on them.To document: (a) local descriptions of the importance of marine mammal hunting; (b) traditional methods for determining if harvested marine mammals are safe to consume; and (c) marine mammal outcomes that would have adverse effects on community health, the perceived causes of these outcomes, strategies for preventing these outcomes and community adaptations to outcomes that cannot be mitigated.Semi-structured interviews and focus groups were conducted with 82 indigenous hunters and elders from the Bering Strait region. Standard qualitative analysis was conducted on interview transcripts, which were coded for both inductive and deductive codes. Responses describing marine mammal food safety and importance are presented using inductively generated categories. Responses describing negative marine mammal outcomes are presented in a vulnerability framework, which links human health outcomes to marine conditions.Project participants perceived that shipping noise and pollution, as well as marine mammal food source depletion by industrial fishing, posed the greatest threats to marine mammal hunting traditions. Proposed adaptations primarily fell into 2 categories: (a) greater tribal influence over marine policy; and (b) documentation of traditional knowledge for local use. This paper presents 1 example of documenting traditional knowledge as an adaptation strategy: traditional methods for determining if marine mammal food is safe to eat.Participant recommendations indicate that 1 strategy to promote rural Alaskan adaptation to climate change is to better incorporate local knowledge and values into decision-making processes. Participant interest in documenting traditional knowledge for local use also indicates that funding agencies could support climate change adaptation by awarding more grants for tribal research that advances local, rather than academic, use of traditional knowledge.


News Article | December 9, 2016
Site: motherboard.vice.com

Before leaving office, President Obama has been busy tidying up the White House. Over the last month or so, the president issued a slew of executive orders, seemingly aimed at slowing Donald Trump's plan to bulldoze the current president's achievements. With regard to climate change and the environment, President Obama has been especially ambitious. Today, he signed an executive order to protect part of Alaska's Arctic known as the Northern Bering Sea. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Northern Bering Sea is one of the world's major fisheries, yet is an epicenter for the effects of global warming, where temperatures have uncharacteristically fluctuated over the last several decades. Relatively recently, retreating ice (partly due to rising ocean temperatures) has negatively impacted a number of species by disrupting entire ecosystems and foodchains, ranging from clams to walruses to humans. The action will enforce an existing agreement that gives Alaska Native tribes a voice in deciding how Alaska's federal lands are used. It will also designate a climate resilience area in a 112,300-square-mile portion of the Northern Bering Sea, and halt oil leases in two offshore regions—totalling 40,300 square miles—that are valuable to wildlife and indigenous communities. The climate resilience area charges agencies with with overseeing activities "with attention to the rights, needs, and knowledge of Alaska Native tribes; the delicate and unique ecosystem; the protection of marine mammals, fish, seabirds, and other wildlife; and with appropriate coordination with the State of Alaska." Each of these regulations will be managed by a taskforce co-chaired by the Department of the Interior, NOAA, and the US Coast Guard. For President Obama, the Arctic has been an obvious passion point. In November, he signed a five year energy plan, issued by the Department of the Interior, that would halt oil exploration in Alaska's Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, threatening to bring drilling to a standstill in the region. He's also attempted, unsuccessfully, to designate the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness, which would give the refuge the highest level of federal protection. The new executive order "closely mirrors requests brought to the White House this year by the Association of Village Council Presidents, Kawerak Inc. and the Bering Sea Elders Group," wrote Alaska Dispatch News. In 2015, Obama became the first sitting US president to visit the Arctic, touring Inupiat communities to hear their concerns about global warming's impact on their livelihood. Since President-elect Trump made it clear he intends to undo "job-killing" environmental rules, many suspect that President Obama is using his executive authority to gridlock Congress during future climate change-related decisions. This week, Trump appointed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency, and just announced Cathy McMorris, chair of the House Republican Conference, as Secretary of the Interior. Both are staunch oil and gas supporters who have opposed environmental regulations, and will undoubtedly do Trump's bidding when it comes to tearing down policies that threaten fossil fuel interests. It's impossible to know how the Trump Administration will attack President Obama's climate change rules, but Trump will certainly have the ability to revoke existing executive orders—that's the downside to any president exercising this power. Many have speculated that it won't be easy for Trump to undo these initiatives, though. At the very least, Obama's final climate change decisions signal to environmentalists where to focus their attention during the next four years. Get six of our favorite Motherboard stories every day by signing up for our newsletter.

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