Impact of 10,000 years of humans in Alaska

Modern civilizations are depleting commercial fisheries leading to regulation excluding local indigenous peoples from traditional harvesting territories. This affects the Aleut peoples of the western Gulf of Alaska, who have depended on marine resources for nearly 10,000 years.

Data resources used via GBIF : 27,082 species occurrences
Sanak Islands, Alaska

Sanak Islands, Alaska by Spencer Wood licensed under CC BY 3.0.

Modern civilizations are depleting commercial fisheries leading to regulation excluding local indigenous peoples from traditional harvesting territories. This affects the Aleut peoples of the western Gulf of Alaska, who have depended on marine resources for nearly 10,000 years. This study simulates the impact of the Aleut on the ecological integrity of the region by combining anthropological data with food webs informed by GBIF-mediated occurrences. Despite being the top predator and a highly omnivorous generalist feeding on 70 different taxa, a behaviour that could potentially result in extinctions, the researchers find no evidence linking the Aleut population of Homo sapiens to such. In fact, the authors suggest that prey-switching behaviour promoted ecological integrity in the region.

Citations

Dunne JA, Maschner H, Betts MW, Huntly N, Russell R, Williams RJ and Wood SA (2016) The roles and impacts of human hunter-gatherers in North Pacific marine food webs. Scientific Reports. Springer Nature 6: 21179. Available at doi:10.1038/srep21179.

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