Current research projects (2019-2023)
Using Co-Produced Knowledge to Understand and Manage Subsistence Marine Harvests in a Changing Climate
Inuvialuit and Inuit in western Nunavut have identified a need to better understand the movement of key subsistence marine species in relation to a changing environment. The unusual event (2014) of a summer beluga harvest in Ulukhaktok, along with declines and shifts in distribution in beluga and fish harvests in other areas, highlight the need for movement data to better define underlying drivers of ecosystem change. Even with 40+ years of beluga harvest monitoring studies in the ISR, and community-based monitoring programs of subsistence fish harvests, western science has provided a short-term view of ecosystem connectivity when compared with Inuit Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). TEK of the Arctic marine environment, beluga, subsistence fish, and key marine prey fish, such as cod, represent a cumulative body of knowledge, practice, and values that spans generations and accounts for variations in the natural environment that are not captured by scientific monitoring and distribution studies. This project will use a platform of knowledge co-production that includes TEK and scientific knowledge among Inuit, researchers and decision-makers to understand ecosystem dynamics in terms of movement ecology of beluga, their prey, key subsistence fish species, and implications for Inuit subsistence in a changing climate. This goal will be accomplished by addressing the following objectives: (1) enhance the co-design approach for telemetry studies among Inuit, researchers and co-management partners; (2) document TEK and observations of species movement in context with ecosystem parameters; (3) use telemetry, aerial survey, and TEK maps as a venue to bring together knowledge holders for knowledge co-production; (4) produce guidance on the implementation of co-produced knowledge of key species at local and regional scales; and (5) ensure Inuit access, ownership and control over data to support its use and application in management, including marine spatial planning and conservation efforts. Data will be collected using participatory mapping with Inuit knowledge holders and complementary telemetry approaches for both beluga (including aerial surveys) and key coastal fish species, and shared using two and three-dimensional environment/habitat models. These models will advance our understanding of the dynamics of movement ecology of key arctic marine species under changing environmental conditions, and provide valuable information for the management and conservation of these species, which Inuit depend on for food security.