Jun 28 2013

Alaska Climate Science Center Supports New Tribal Projects

The Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center, working in partnership with the Northwest Climate Science Center and the North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperative, will fund an innovative tribal project aimed at understanding climate change impacts on subsistence foods, and how seven tribes in the Chugach region of Alaska can adapt to these changes. Led by the Chugachmiut Tribal Consortium, which represents the seven tribes of the Chugach region of Alaska (Chenega Bay, Eyak, Nanwalek, Port Graham, Qutekcak, Tatitlek, and Valdez), this research will compliment three jointly funded projects that were previously selected by the two CASCs and North Pacific LCC.

The project aims to study the relationship between recent outreaks of moths, climate, and berries--an important subsistence food resource in Southcentral Alaska. The Native people of this region rely heavily on gathered food for sustenance and nourishment. In the traditional Native diet berries were the only sweet food, and hence are culturally as well as nutritionally important. A recent outbreak of geometrid moths has decimated subsistence berry harvests in Southcentral Alaska. According to tribal elders and scientific records, this is the first time such an outbreak has been seen in the area. Changing climatic conditions may be linked to factors allowing the moth populations to grow to levels capable of destroying the berry resource. This project will develop a risk model to predict where subsistence berry plants will be most resistant to geometrid attack. Study results will be used to target forest management operations and other adaptation measures in areas most likely to be resistant to moth outbreaks, and to promote sustainable berry production.

Cooperators include the USDA Forest Service and Colorado State University