Modeling harvesting behavior to understand adaptation mitigation and transformation in northern subsistence systems

Project: Research project

Project Details


Modeling harvesting behavior to understand adaptation mitigation and transformation in northern subsistence systems Modeling harvesting behavior to understand adaptation, mitigation, and transformation in northern subsistence systems Project Summary People across the globe are increasingly facing rapid changes in the resources on which they depend for food and survival. In the Arctic, climate warming is one of several interrelated forces of change that could threaten the livelihoods of indigenous communities. While Indigenous Peoples of the North have a long history of adaptation to environmental change, the limits to their adaptive capacity may be challenged because of these emergent conditions. In this proposal we study subsistence harvesting by indigenous communities that have developed a subsistence-cash economy linking cultural adaptation to the subsistence resources in the ecosystems they inhabit. Intellectual Merit This project will contribute to our understanding of the resilience of high latitude social-ecological systems through a study of the effects of multiple forces of change on indigenous subsistence harvesting. We partner with two local communities of the North Slope and interior Alaska to document how these changes are affecting subsistence harvesting. Subsistence harvesters decisions are modeled to understand adaptation in conditions of ecological, economic and social change and to identify tradeoffs that emerge with changing social-ecological conditions. A spatially explicit agent-based model (ABM) that focuses on the multi-species seasonal round is developed and used to explore the implications of three interacting drivers of change - climate change, changing fuel costs, and changes in land-use which are likely to affect harvesters choices and adaptive strategies. This research seeks to make operational concepts espoused as part of resilience theory, provides a means for modeling these systems and improving our understanding of the dynamics of social-ecological system. Broader Impacts The proposed research offers: (i) Timely insight into the adaptation of Indigenous Peoples of the North for their benefit and the benefit of the broader society; (ii) The inclusion of local knowledge together with quantitative analysis as the basis for model development; (iii) An opportunity for indigenous northern communities and academic researchers to engage in the scientific process; (iv) A model that can serve as a decision/discussion support tool for northern and regional leaders to explore the options for mitigation, adaptation, and transformational change; and (v) An opportunity for a graduate student to work within an interdisciplinary environment, training him/her to deal with complex problems of the contemporary world. The goals of the proposed study are to: (A) develop a framework for characterizing subsistence harvesting behavioral strategies that may contribute to the adaptive capacity of a community; (B) develop an agent-based model that captures these behavioral strategies as parts of social, ecological, and economic dimensions of human-environment relations in the northern context; (C) use the model to explore scenarios of socialecological change and their linkages with community mitigation, adaptation, and transformation in conditions of rapid change; and (D) identify potential trade offs that may be faced due to the change in climate, fuel costs, and land-use.
Effective start/end date8/1/139/15/13


  • NSF-GEO: Division of Polar Programs (PLR): $30,000.00


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