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The roles and impacts of human hunter-gatherers in North Pacific marine food webs
Dunne, J.A.; Maschner, H.; Betts, W.; Huntly, N.; Russell, R.; Williams, R.J.; Wood, S.A. (2016). The roles and impacts of human hunter-gatherers in North Pacific marine food webs. NPG Scientific Reports 6(21179): 9 pp.
In: Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group). Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 2045-2322, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Dunne, J.A.
  • Maschner, H.
  • Betts, W.
  • Huntly, N.
  • Russell, R.
  • Williams, R.J.
  • Wood, S.A.

    There is a nearly 10,000-year history of human presence in the western Gulf of Alaska, but little understanding of how human foragers integrated into and impacted ecosystems through their roles as hunter-gatherers. We present two highly resolved intertidal and nearshore food webs for the Sanak Archipelago in the eastern Aleutian Islands and use them to compare trophic roles of prehistoric humans to other species. We find that the native Aleut people played distinctive roles as super-generalist and highly-omnivorous consumers closely connected to other species. Although the human population was positioned to have strong effects, arrival and presence of Aleut people in the Sanak Archipelago does not appear associated with long-term extinctions. We simulated food web dynamics to explore to what degree introducing a species with trophic roles like those of an Aleut forager, and allowing for variable strong feeding to reflect use of hunting technology, is likely to trigger extinctions. Potential extinctions decreased when an invading omnivorous super-generalist consumer focused strong feeding on decreasing fractions of its possible resources. This study presents the first assessment of the structural roles of humans as consumers within complex ecological networks, and potential impacts of those roles and feeding behavior on associated extinctions.

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