Will species and ecosystems be able to resist both direct human impact and climate changes? We are concerned about this especially for cold alpine and arctic regions where the effect of changing climate is expected to be severe. By increasing our understanding of what has driven past ecosystem changes, we may be more able to foresee how current and future changes may effect the species and ecosystems.
How are we doing this?
We will take advantage of recently developed genetic methods and even further develop them to analyse lake sediments as they represents archives of past biodiversity. We will do DNA analyses of 20 lakes in northern Norway and 20 lakes in the Alps to find out how the diversity of animal and plants has changed over time. As these two regions have experienced similar changes in climate, whereas the impact of humans has been much higher in the Alps, we will be able to disentangling the effects of past human land-use (hunting, husbandry, burning, agriculture), climate change, and biota on species and ecosystem changes.
What are we hoping for?
We hope to answer questions central to our understanding of our biological resources, such as the level of persistence of species and resilience of ecosystems to environmental drivers, the extinction risk of species, and the capacity of mountain landscape to buffer against these changes. By combining our knowledge gained from the past with data on current climate, land use and ecosystem characteristics, we will make predictions of future changes and provide key knowledge for management and conservation priorities.
The project is funded by The Research Council of Norway (Topforsk) and based at Tromsø University Museum, UiT – The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø. It has collaborations with both national and international institutions.