Environmental change in Western Siberia: Interactions of land surfaces, animal communities, infrastructure, and peoples of the Arctic

Team Members: Peter Ungar, Valeriy Ivanov, Alexander Sokolov, John Ziker, Natalya Sokolova, Andrew Dixon, Mary Heskel, Dorothee Ehrich, Konstantin Gribanov, Desheng Liu, Aleksey Sheshukov, Victor Valdayskikh, Jingfeng Wang, Olivier Gilg, Valeriy Mazepa, Alexandra Terekhina, Alexander Volkovitskiy

Funding Source: US National Science Foundation

This project will bring together earth system scientists, engineers, ecologists, and anthropologists to develop a plan to document and explain changes in ecosystems and their effects on the plants, animals, indigenous peoples, and industrial infrastructure of the Arctic region. It will emphasize interactions between these elements to help understand, inform, and plan for changes to come. Researchers will focus on the Yamal Peninsula of Russian Siberia. Yamal presents a continuous gradation of habitat types from forest in the south to tundra in the north, a rich diversity of endemic and invasive plant and animal species, a large population of traditional peoples, and economically critical natural resources. Local stakeholders will be engaged throughout the project, including representatives of government and industry in Yamal and indigenous Nenets communities in the region.

This project is important because the Yamal Peninsula serves as a small-scale and manageable model for the Arctic as a whole, wherein changes in climate and their effects on temperature, precipitation, landform, plants, animals, peoples, and infrastructure need to be understood and related to one another.  This work will contribute to curriculum development for collaborative, transdisciplinary online inter-institutional undergraduate and graduate courses to train the next generation of scientists to take a holistic approach to problem solving.  


Dental wear of rodents from the Yamal Peninsula as a proxy for habitat

Team Members: Peter Ungar, Lindsay Saylor, Kaitlyn Puyear, Jacob Purifroy, Olivier Gilg, Alexandr Sokolov, Natalya Sokolova, Sophie Montuire, Aurelien Royer, Ivan Fufachev

This project will consider variation in microwear texture patterns on the incisors of lemmings and voles as well as gross wear of cheek teeth of voles  along a north-south gradient in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug.   The Yamal Peninsula and adjacent Belyi Island represents a series of ecological zones and microhabitats that might be distinguished by wear pattern.    We hope to develop a proxy by which we can reconstruct habitat in the past, gauge environmental variation today, and monitor effects of climate change into the future.


Dental wear and breakage for Arctic Foxes from the Yamal Peninsula as indicators of dietary stress

Team Members: Peter Ungar, Blaire Van Valkenburgh, Alexandria Peterson, Aleksandr Sokolov, Natalia Sokolova, Dorothee Ehrich, Ivan Fufachev, Alexandra Terekhina, Alexander Volkovitskiy, and Viktor Shtro

This project considers dental microwear, gross tooth wear and patterns of antemortem fracture of the dentitions of Arctic foxes as a proxy for dietary variation associated with varying food availability across time and space in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug.   We hope to develop a proxy by which we can assess impacts of climate change in the Arctic on endemic mammals, including foxes