Category Archives: Berry Harvesting

Using traditional ecological knowledge to understand and adapt to climate and biodiversity change on the Pacific Coast of North America

2019. Victoria Rawn Wyllie de Echeverria , Thomas F. Thornton  Ambio https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-019-01218-6

2019. Wyllie de Echeverria, Thornton

The authors tackle one of the most complex issues in climate change science and ecology – how to include a human element in identifying change including traditional knowledge of plants and animals. How can human experiences, languages and traditions be used to verify change, and how can the importance of these traditions be included in ecological studies of climate change.  One main goal, of course,  is to identify ways indigenous people can maintain customary uses of their region, in this case, coastal areas in Southeast Alaska, while adapting to broader ecological changes that occur in an ecosystem.  Participants in a survey noted weather pattern shifts in their lifetime such as more snow, more rainfall, as well as shifts in the seasons. The researchers also examined language patterns to learn about traditional words used for weather or activities related to weather such as “foods being dried in the sun”. They indicated that changes in plant use in the region was most likely because of land use changes (logging, land development) rather than specific climate change.

One case study examined changes to salmonberry and blueberry species that are considered keystone species because they are used heavily by locals and have a long tradition of use. The authors tried to make connections between people’s recollections, historical knowledge and current practices compared to ecological knowledge of berry picking sites, yields, berry quality and more. I think back to some of the experiments in ecology I have been involved with over the years. They are so complex, it is difficult to isolate a single or even a handful of biological causes for a particular observation. For instance, there are so many reasons why berries might not appear in a season (frost during spring, drought, too much rain, poor soil nutrition, predation, and on and on. Recollections might be due to any or a combination of these factors. Attributing them to climate change is tricky and challenging. Human knowledge might just add to the evidence, but as climate scientists will agree, it takes many, many years and a lot of data points to begin to draw conclusions.

 

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Documenting Change in Nunavut

Here is a thesis that explores climate change through berries near Kugluktuk, Nunavut, Canada. The program is part citizen science as well as documenting the ethnobotany of the region. It includes great summaries of the most important berries and even some recipes!

ubc_2017_may_desrosiers_sarah

Wild berries along the Tanana

From one of the last screencasts in the Wild and Cultivated Berries class, (NRM 154), it was mentioned that certain berries could be found along the Yukon and Tanana rivers. I am from a village along the Yukon River and have to travel along the Tanana River in order to get home by boat. I had never even thought about looking for any other berry besides blueberries along the river. Now that I know what all of these berries look like and where they are likely to grow I can definitely be on the lookout next time I travel home 🙂  LF Fairbanks

The Zen of Berry Picking!

Salmonberry picking. The link above takes you to a cute short story about salmonberry picking in Alaska. It is called “The Zen of Berry Picking” by Lisa Kroner. It is a funny short story that truely does express how important berries are to people who pick everywhere and live off the land. “The thing about picking wild berries is that although they are everywhere, they are not always easy to get to-” (The Zen of Berry Picking, Kroner, p. 9). Berry picking is not always easy and it can be a real chore depending on the area you live in. I also think thats what makes it fun though, and feeling the appreciation when you come home with a bucket full of berries. Kroner expresses her thankfulness in this short story of her learning about salmonberries.

Berries in Alaska

This article in the ADN is about the antioxidant content of berries, good picking locations in Alaska and some of the things you can do with them once you find them. One recipe i personally would like to try is the Nagoonberry Syrup! Burke, Jill. 2012. Alaska wild berries: Tips on how to find and prepare them. Accessed online: Berries  Accessed on 12 Oct 2016.

Nagoonberry Harvest Glacier Bay

Berry picking is a large part of most Alaskan cultures and heritages. This is a video produced in cooperation with Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve and the Hoonah Indian Association. In this ten minute video there are 21 lucky berry pickers that were invited to the Glacier Bay National Park to pick Nagoon berries. In this video you get to see and hear introductions of those invited berry picking including some information on the individuals cultural background and their thoughts and feelings on being able to go berry nagoon berry picking. I like this video because you get a since of the feeling of pride and happiness that berry picking can bring not only an individual but also a community. I really liked that many of these pickers were first time nagoon berry pickers. What a great program the National Park Service has created by helping Alaskan cultures get back to some of their roots. LH Fairbanks

Grant, K. 2011. Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve Berry Pickers 2011. Available online: https://www.nps.gov/media/video/view.htm?id=C3F041A5-1DD8-B71C-0774CC1129C90E5A . Accessed: 10 Oct. 2016.

Alaska Wild Berry Resources

Alaskan Wild Berry Resources and Human Health Under the Cloud of Climate Change
Wild berries are an integral part of Alaskan diet. They are a rich source in polyphenolic metabolites that can aid metabolic disorders such as obesity and diabetes. Here, a study of five common Alaskan wild berries are screened for bioactivity -the effect on participants. And the effect of different seasons/fluctuations on berry abundance and quality is provided.

Selected extracts reduced glucose levels and other insight allows for the monitoring of these berries as the climate changes throughout the region.
Flint, Courtney. Gonzalez De Mejia, Elvira. Kellogg, Joshua. Kuhn, Peter. Lila, Mary Ann. Raskin, Ilya. Ribnicky, David. Wang, Jinzhi. 2010. “Alaskan Wild Berry Resources and Human Health Under the Cloud of Climate Change.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 58(7): 3884-3900.