Historical legacies in the northern tundra ecosystem
The approach represents a scientific field called historical ecology, which is relatively new discipline and combines ecological research methods with humanities in order to gain deeper understanding on ecological processes and the human role in them
Ecologists generally investigate ecosystem processes in the present. During the recent decades, however, scientist have become increasingly aware that the plant communities and soil processes we see today are heavily influenced by what has happened in the area during the past. The influence of the past on present ecosystem structure is particularly strong in the north, where soil carbon and nutrient cycles are extremely slow and exert a long-lasting legacy on the conditions for plant growth.
Land-use history affects ecosystem structure especially through soil nutrient availability, which in turn is a powerful driver for plant community composition and productivity. In Lapland, reindeer husbandry has constituted a major means of land-use for centuries.
In this project, I answer the following question: How does the long history of reindeer husbandry shape the nature we see today?
- I use a multidisciplinary approach that builds bridges between natural sciences and history. In the practical implementation of the project, I combine ecosystem ecological research methods with archaecological databases and historical records. Via this approach, it is possible to investigate ecosystem effects of reindeer grazing in decadal and centennial timescales and to identify its cultural legacies, Researcher Sari Stark says.
The approach represents a scientific field called historical ecology, which is relatively new discipline and combines ecological research methods with humanities in order to gain deeper understanding on ecological processes and the human role in them. Simultaneously, novel tools are created for resolving current ecological problems and for predicting and adapting to the effects of climate change.
Photo: Historical milking grounds in Staloluokta, Northern Sweden