Thursday, August 5, 2010 - 3:00 PM

SYMP 19-5: Cause and effect: Discerning the roles of the aleut through 4500 years of changing north Pacific ecosystems

Nicole Misarti1, Bruce Finney1, Nancy Huntly1, James Jordan2, Herbert Maschner1, Katherine Reedy-Maschner1, and Spencer A. Wood3. (1) Idaho State University, (2) Antioch University, (3) University of British Columbia

Background/Question/Methods Humans have been part of the ecosystems of the northeast Pacific for at least 9000 years. The Sanak Biocomplexity project has traced the dynamic interactions between humans and ecosystems of the Eastern Aleutian Archipelago over thousands of years through data from archaeological sites.

Results/Conclusions The Aleut have helped to shape the terrestrial landscape and nearshore ecology for the last 4,500 years. Conversely, ocean and atmospheric climate have influenced population size, village location, house size, resource consumption and sociopolitical trajectories. Stable isotope data combined with zooarchaeological findings have formed a picture of Aleuts as both agents of top-down change and reactors to bottom-up processes. Humans, climate, and ecosystems in the northeast Pacific continue to influence one another in the present day. From crashes in cod fisheries in the 1920s to more recent concerns in crab fisheries leading to rationalization, combined with ongoing volatility of salmon returns, human populations on Sanak Island and the nearby Alaska Peninsula have increased, decreased, or migrated to more favorable locales. The fate of modern communities continues to rest on the fates of the local fisheries.