Social-ecological Systems of Arctic Yakutia in the Context of Global Change

  • Datum: –17.00
  • Plats: Institute for Russian and Russian Studies (IRES) Gamla torget 3, 3rd floor, IRES Library
  • Föreläsare: Stanislav Ksenofontov is a researcher at the University of Zurich. Dr. Ksenofontov is an International Arctic Science Committee fellow 2018 and Co-Chair of the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists Council.
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  • Arrangör: Institute for Russian and Russian Studies (IRES)
  • Kontaktperson: Jevgenija Gehsbarga
  • Telefon: 018 471 1630
  • Föreläsning

The Arctic is undergoing rapid transformations as a result of global change. Global change drivers significantly affect Arctic biodiversity as well as ecosystem functioning: climate change results in shifts of natural habitats of many animals and plants; land use and technological adaptation cause migration route changes of numerous animals; the expansion of non-native species forces out native ones; and overexploitation brings about an extinction of many native species. Arctic indigenous communities are also dramatically affected by global change since they are highly dependent on biodiversity and ecosystem services for food, economy and socio-cultural well-being. Moreover, the livelihoods of indigenous communities are challenged by socio-political as well as economic stresses and shocks.

This presentation aims to assess the vulnerability and adaptive capacity of the Arctic social-ecological systems. In doing so, Dr. Ksenofontov examines indigenous knowledge of global change drivers and their effects on the social-ecological systems. Social-ecological systems represent complex interactions of humans and nature. In the case of accelerated global change, the vulnerability of social-ecological systems may be increased and thus may compromise their sustainability. The research is based on two case study areas in the Arctic regions of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) in North-Eastern Siberia, Russia, where indigenous (Eveny, Evenki, Sakha) community members have been interviewed. It employs a mixed methods approach: 34 qualitative in-depth interviews, participant observation, two focus group discussions and 204 quantitative standardized questionnaires have been carried out in four Arctic settlements.

The study has shown that Yakutian communities face multiple global change related stresses. These stresses significantly affect livelihoods of the indigenous communities as well as their traditional practices (hunting, fishing, gathering and reindeer herding). As a result, food security of the indigenous communities is challenged. Indigenous communities have developed adaptive strategies to a changing climate and environment (changing fishing grounds in case of fish shortage, consumption habits change, just to name a few). However, their adaptive potential is constrained by socio-political and economic transformations (i.e. the collapse of the Soviet Union or new fishing laws). The interplay of aforementioned climatic stresses and socio-political shocks and trends increase the vulnerability of indigenous communities' livelihoods. Therefore, in order to maintain or increase the sustainability of Arctic social-ecological systems, it is necessary to take into account indigenous knowledge in developing and implementing conservation policies.

Stanislav Ksenofontov (PhD) is a native of Sakha and Evenk from the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Northeastern Siberia, Russia. He received his PhD in Human Geography at the University of Zurich in 2018 with a PhD thesis addressing vulnerability and adaptive capacity of the social-ecological systems of Arctic Yakutia in the context of global change. Dr. Ksenofontov is currently planning to carry out a short-term research fellowship on the political and scientific interests of South Korea in the Arctic at the Korean Polar Research Institute. Dr. Ksenofontov is an International Arctic Science Committee fellow 2018 and Co-Chair of the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists Council.