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.
Results of research of mineral composition, content of vitamin C and P, titrable acids, pectinaceous and phenol substances in fresh, fast-frozen (t=-30 °C), and also stored within 3 and 9 months (t=-18 °C) fruits of wild-growing blackberry, cornel, medlar and sea-buckthorn are presented in article. Determination of mineral composition was carried out by flame atomic absorption photometry, vitamin C and pectinaceous substances -by titirimetric methods, phenolic substances and vitamin P - by colorimetric methods. Vitamin C content was minimal in fresh fruits of cornel (6.9±0.3 mg%), amounted to 21.7-32.0 mg% in the fruits of blackberries and medlar and reached 180.1±7.2 mg% in the fruit of sea-buckthorn. Vitamin P concentration ranged from 34.9 (sea-buckthorn) to 180.0 mg% (cornel). Berries of a cornel contained also the greatest number of titrable acids (33.2±1.3 g/dm3), phenolic compounds (243.0±4.8 mg%) and pectinaceous substances (2.91±0.08%). The most significant content of potassium (521±15.6 mg%), calcium (133.2±5.2 mg%), magnesium (62.4±2.5 mg%) and iron (2.81±0.05 mg%) was revealed in medlar fruits. Consumption of 100 g of the studied fruits provides daily requirements of a human body, depending on a species of wild plants: in calcium -for 2-13.3%, potassium - for 7.0-20.8%, magnesium - for 8.1-15.6%, iron - for 5.9-19.2% and in vitamin C - from 5.8-24.6 to 145.7% in the case of sea buckthorn. The applied processing method of conservation - fast freezing (t=-30 °?) of fruits and their long storage (t=-18 °?) is the effective way ensuring high safety of nutrients in them. In the studied berries after 9-months cold storage the safety of vitamin C varied ranging from 55.7 (blackberry) to 76.1% (cornel), and vitamin P - from 81.9 (sea-buckthorn) to 92.8% (cornel). Stability of titrable acids, except for medlar fruits, varied from 84.2% (blackberry) to 94.0% (sea-buckthorn). The safety of phenolic and pectinaceous compounds by the end of 9 months of storage, has averaged 90.6 and 95.6% respectively in comparison with their initial quantity in fresh fruits. The mineral composition was the stablest. After completion of experiment the safety of mineral substances in fruits of wild plants fluctuated from 94.6 to 98.5%. Distinctions in change of biochemical complexes of berries of blackberry, cornel, medlar and sea-buckthorn at fast freezing (t=-30 °?) and storage (t=-18 °?), apparently, are caused by specific features, content of free and bound water, thickness of cellular walls, durability of a thin skin of fruits, as well as by concentration of the components that inhibit the destructive processes occurring at the cellular and molecular level.