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Climate Impacts on the Locations and Availability of Traditional Food Sources from Native Northwestern Shrubs

Will Climate Warming Affect Locations or Timing of Availability of Food Sources from Native Northwestern Shrubs?


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Fruit-producing shrubs such as huckleberries, salal, and hazelnut are an important component of social history and traditional tribal diets in the Pacific Northwest. The fruits of these shrubs are also an important food source for foraging wildlife and pollinators, and serve as the basis for both non-tribal harvesting and small-scale commercial operations. Among land managers and tribes, there is a strong interest in preserving and restoring these culturally important plant species across the Pacific Northwest. However, limited knowledge is available on the current ranges of shrub species, or how climate change will impact future ranges or the timing of flowering and fruiting for key Northwest shrub species. The project team is [...]

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“Huckleberries - Credit: Tim Rain, NPS”
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“Huckleberries - Credit: USFS”
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“PNW-GTR-980 - Seeing the Forest Below the Trees: Occurrences of Shrubs in PNW”
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Recent work has predicted that climate warming may have significant effects on timing of budburst of many native tree species, however, very limited work has focused on how changes in future climate would impact the flowering and fruiting of shrubs used by many tribes as traditional foods in the Pacific Northwest. Current information sources such as general ecological summaries or county-level range maps are not sufficient to assess the current and projected future impact that climate change will have on traditional foods, nor provide the specificity to develop tools to pinpoint or reduce vulnerability to potential changes. Traditional foods are key to the sense of place in Native American culture and strong traditions exist for the collection, storage, and consumption of these foods as well as, in some cases, plant culture. Shrubs such as native huckleberries, salal, and hazelnut are also important for wildlife and non-tribal food gathering. This project will synthesize location and life history data from multiple inventory and scientific data sources to develop range maps, climate-envelope models, and phenological models for focal shrub species of the Northwest. We will provide a web-platform for users to explore information on the life history and traditional uses of native shrub foods, and observe how possible climate change scenarios may alter shrub species ranges and the timing of their flowering and fruiting in the future. We will work with Northwestern tribes to identify shrubs of significant cultural interest to focus on and interact with them frequently to ensure the products we are producing are relevant to them. We will create the project products in collaboration with personnel from a minimum of 4 tribes, two National Forests, the Cedar River Watershed, the Conservation Biology Institute, and the University of Idaho.

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