Future Arctic Ecosystems (FATE): drivers of diversity and future scenarions from ethno-ecology, contemporary ecology and ancient DNA

The Arctic is currently experiencing dramatic ecosystem changes, with immediate effects on ecosystem services connected to food production, climate regulation, natural resources and cultural integrity. Understanding the relative impacts of climate, herbivory, and human management on ecosystems, in particular on vegetation, is of paramount importance for their long term sustainability (conservation) as well as for the well-being of indigenous communities across the circumpolar North. These communities directly depend on herding and hunting large herbivores, such as reindeer/caribou and are already struggling to adapt to the effects of climate warming and correlated changes in vegetation.

Our main research questions are
• How did the diversity of plants, mammals and fungi/lichens change through time at different sites
throughout the Arctic?
• To what extent are particular plant species and overall diversity correlated to climatic change or to the influence and abundance of herbivores?
• What is the knowledge and experiences of local communities/indigenous peoples about the
interactions of vegetation, climate change, herbivory and other anthropogenic influences?
• How can we build integrated scenarios on arctic ecosystems based on ecological science and
indigenous and local knowledge?
We will conduct a comprehensive inter- and transdisciplinary study using sedimentary ancient DNA, current ecological observations and anthropological investigations of indigenous peoples’ knowledge and interpretations.