Tuesday, August 7, 2007 - 8:00 AM

OOS 9-1: Why there are no "natural" ecosystems: Humans in the North Pacific landscape

Herbert Maschner1, Matthew Betts1, Nancy Huntly1, Katherine Reedy-Maschner1, Bruce P. Finney2, and James Jordan3. (1) Idaho State University, (2) University of Alaska Fairbanks, (3) Antioch University

The Sanak Biocomplexity Project is funded by the National Science Foundation to investigate the role humans have played in the engineering of northern ecosystem dynamics. The integrative efforts among archaeologists, anthropologists, ecologists, geologists, oceanographers, and others have been a key element of this research. We have found that the behavioral ecology of Steller sea lions maybe a byproduct of human harvesting such that sea lions are adapted to certain human harvesting pressures. We have also found that trophic dynamics between species may also be conditioned by human adaptive strategies so that the interplay between sea urchins, sea otters, and humans is more complex than often acknowledged. We conclude that the natural Greater Bering Sea / North Pacific environment has been both passively and actively altered by a long history of interacting feedbacks between human social systems and the marine ecosystem.