Wild berries are a valued traditional food in Alaska. Phytochemicals in wild berries may contribute to the prevention of vascular disease, cancer and cognitive decline, making berry consumption important to community health in rural areas. Little was known regarding which species of berries were important to Alaskan communities, the number of species typically picked in communities and whether recent environmental change has affected berry abundance or quality.
To identify species of wild berries that were consumed by people in different ecological regions of Alaska and to determine if perceived berry abundance was changing for some species or in some regions.
We asked tribal environmental managers throughout Alaska for their views on which among 12 types of wild berries were important to their communities and whether berry harvests over the past decade were different than in previous years. We received responses from 96 individuals in 73 communities.
Berries that were considered very important to communities differed among ecological regions of Alaska. Low-bush blueberry (Vaccinium uliginosum and V. caespitosum), cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus) and salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis) were most frequently identified as very important berries for communities in the boreal, polar and maritime ecoregions, respectively. For 7 of the 12 berries on the survey, a majority of respondents indicated that in the past decade abundance had either declined or become more variable.
Our study is an example of how environmental managers and participants in local observer networks can report on the status of wild resources in rural Alaska. Their observations suggest that there have been changes in the productivity of some wild berries in the past decade, resulting in greater uncertainty among communities regarding the security of berry harvests. Monitoring and experimental studies are needed to determine how environmental change may affect berry abundance.
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This manual is to be used by military personnel separated from their units while on duty in the Arctic regions. Its purpose is to aid individuals to recognize edible food plants of the area so that in emergency they may subsist from the land. The manual illustrates and describes briefly the most important edible berries, greens, and roots of the most northern areas.
Available upon request at the Alaska Medical Library, located on the second floor of UAA/APU Consortium Library. Ask for accession no. 100859.
The content of capsaicinoids differs widely in fruits of an individual plant. This is shown for Capsicum annuum var. Cayenne and var. DeArbol and Capsicum frutescens var. Hot Siberian, respectively. Three age groups, (i) very young, (ii) medium age, and (iii) older fruits, were studied. A consistent dependence on the node position on the plant for fruit weight and capsaicinoid content of the individual fruits was not observed. These traits do not develop concomitantly and are influenced differently by environmental factors. Therefore, the expression as capsaicinoid content per fruit leads to a different conclusion than a comparison of concentration values (mg/kg). This is exemplified for C. frutescens var. Hot Siberian grown in two consecutive years with fruits of lower fruit weight but the same capsaicinoid accumulation in the second year. Higher values for pungency (expressed as mg/kg) would have been the result from the analysis of bulked material. The fatty acid pattern of capsaicinoids is uniform for all fruits from one plant, irrespective of the large variation of total capsaicinoid content.