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.
Many species of fungi produce ephemeral autumnal fruiting bodies to spread and multiply. Despite their attraction for mushroom pickers and their economic importance, little is known about the phenology of fruiting bodies. Using approximately 34,500 dated herbarium records we analyzed changes in the autumnal fruiting date of mushrooms in Norway over the period 1940-2006. We show that the time of fruiting has changed considerably over this time period, with an average delay in fruiting since 1980 of 12.9 days. The changes differ strongly between species and groups of species. Early-fruiting species have experienced a stronger delay than late fruiters, resulting in a more compressed fruiting season. There is also a geographic trend of earlier fruiting in the northern and more continental parts of Norway than in more southern and oceanic parts. Incorporating monthly precipitation and temperature variables into the analyses provides indications that increasing temperatures during autumn and winter months bring about significant delay of fruiting both in the same year and in the subsequent year. The recent changes in autumnal mushroom phenology coincide with the extension of the growing season caused by global climate change and are likely to continue under the current climate change scenario.