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Marine Arctic Resilience, Adaptations and Transformations

Arctic marine food webs are changing at unprecedented rates and it is uncertain how species will adapt, how new ecological configurations will emerge, and how communities dependent on marine resources will cope with change. This project will integrate models, local knowledge, and comparative case studies to assess the resilience of Arctic marine food webs to climate and fishing pressures, and how communities adapt or transform to such changes. The project will use methods and theories from the natural and social sciences, as well as integrating perspectives from local communities, national governmental agencies and multilateral institutions all focused on sustainable fisheries. Our work will be divided in four work packages (WPs). WP1 will develop a generic food web model that takes into account biological relevant features of Arctic marine food webs. We will then focus on two in-depth case studies, one in Nunavut, Canada (WP2) and another on salmon fisheries in Alaska (WP3). In Nunavut we will study how indigenous local knowledge and scientific understanding can inform adaptive co-management practices. In Alaska we will explore the tradeoffs among commercial, touristic and subsistence fisheries of salmon and the response of its wild and domesticated populations to climate change. In WP4 we develop tools to assess the adaptive and transformative capacities of Arctic communities to changes in their marine environments. We will expand previous efforts of the Arctic Resilience Report to upscale the resilience assessment of the Arctic. Our four work packages together will provide insights on how marine food webs are changing in the Arctic, and what opportunities and challenges they pose to governing agencies and local communities depending on marine ecosystem services.

Our collaborators

We plan to involve stakeholders at the community level through community-collaborative approaches to research. Stakeholders will be engaged throughout WP2 research process through interviews, focus groups and participatory expert elicitation. Qualitative results from these consultations will be triangulated with quantitative ones and the integrated results will be validated by hunters and trappers organizations (HTOs). In addition to local communities we will also engage with national and multilateral organizations in charge of managing sustainable fishing. These include the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), and the International Council for the Explorations of the Seas (ICES). We will collaborate with researchers at these institutions to develop a shared understanding of the state of marine food webs in the Arctic and how communities can adapt or transform to such changes.

Our research site: the Arctic

MARAT work packages. WP1 will develop a generic food web model for the Arctic that can be downscaled to be combined with the work of our case studies in Canada with Nunavut communities (WP2) and Alaska with salmon fisheries (WP3). WP4 will expand the resilience assessment of the Arctic Resilience Report (cases in blue, N = 25) and reconstruct the network of knowledge exchange across cases. These four work packages together will help us understand what conditions increase the adaptive and transformative capacity of Arctic communities.

Juan C. Rocha

Juan investigates critical transitions: from regime shifts in ecosystems to collective action in society.