Resilience of Athabascan subsistence systems to interior Alaska's changing climate
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Gary P. Kofinas; F. Stuart Chapin III; Shauna BurnSilver; Jennifer I. Schmidt; Knut K. Kielland; Stephanie Martin; Anna Springsteen; T. Scott Rupp
Publication Year: 2010

Cataloging Information

  • adaptive management
  • climate change
  • social-ecological system
  • subsistence
  • wildfire
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: March 11, 2016
FRAMES Record Number: 14607


Subsistence harvesting and wild food production by Athabascan peoples is part of an integrated social-ecological system of interior Alaska. We describe effects of recent trends and future climate change projections on the boreal ecosystem of interior Alaska and relate changes in ecosystem services to Athabascan subsistence. We focus primarily on moose, a keystone terrestrial subsistence resource of villages in that region. Although recent climate change has affected the boreal forest, moose, and Athabascan moose harvesting, a high dependence by village households on moose persists. An historical account of 20th century socioeconomic changes demonstrates that the vulnerability of Athabascan subsistence systems to climatic change has in some respects increased while at the same time has improved aspects of village resilience. In the face of future climate and socioeconomic changes, communities have limited but potentially effective mitigation and adaptation opportunities. The extent to which residents can realize those opportunities depends on the responsiveness of formal and informal institutions to local needs. For example, increases in Alaska's urban population coupled with climate-induced habitat shifts may increase hunting conflicts in low-moose years. This problem could be mitigated through adaptive co-management strategies that project future moose densities and redirect urban hunters to areas of lower conflict.

Online Link(s):
Kofinas, Gary P., Chapin III, F. Stuart; BurnSilver, Shauna; Schmidt, Jennifer I.; Fresco, Nancy L.; Kielland, Knut; Martin, Stephanie; Rupp, T. Scott. 2010. Resilience of Athabascan subsistence systems to interior AlaskaĆ¢??s changing climate. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 40(7):1347-1359.