The June 1990 issue of Arctic carried a lament by Ed Struzik about the possible demise of the Boreal Institute and the lack of support for northern research in Canada. This editorial begged a number of questions about the North and research there. What is northern research about? Expanding the frontiers of knowledge? Academic publication, promotion and prestige? Aiding northern development - or conservation? Informing policy makers in Ottawa - or empowering local residents? Getting off campus for the summer and into a less claustrophobic place? ... [The author discusses his experiences in northern research and the northern dilemma - to exploit or conserve - and concludes with this wisdom:] ... from the North I carried away first-hand knowledge of three living forms and their fate that point the way to possible futures for the North - and Canada. Caribou that fight tangle their antlers and die when they cannot free themselves. Muskoxen, when attacked by wolves, form a circle, horns pointing outwards. This ancient strategy provided no defence against Peary and his people, who shot down these great beasts for food: we found their heaped, bullet-shattered skulls in northern Elesmere Island. We also found many forms of lichen, flourishing where nothing else grew, drawing sustenance from air and rock. Lichens are symbioses of algae and fungi, two completely different forms of life. Through mutual aid, each serving the need of the other for nutrition, they produce a myriad of colourful forms that cannot be created by separate organisms. Lichen are not theories, concepts, hypotheses or even paradigms. They are living presences and witnesses to the necessity of cooperation for survival in a vast and hostile land at the very end of the earth. They indicate how traditional ways and modern science, northern peoples and southern in-comers, theory and practice, rational and intuitive ways, the North and the nation can be developed. They point the middle way to a North that can be more than a place to loot and leave - or where only man is vile. And from our northern experience, in science and in the daily struggle to solve practical problems, Canadians can carry messages about cooperation and symbiosis to a world weary of conflict and confrontation.
Late Tertiary paleosols occurring in the unglaciated portion of the Yukon Territory of northwestern Canada have either Podzolic or Luvisolic soil development. The early Pleistocene paleosols in this area also display Luvisolic soil development in addition to cryogenic soil properties resulting from frost action. Most of these latter paleosols have deeply weathered sola and they usually have rubified argillic horizons. These soil properties suggest that the climate during the late Tertiary and early Pleistocene was warmer than at present. The cryogenic soil properties found in the early Pleistocene paleosols suggest that these soils were exposed to cold climates during subsequent glacial periods.
Turning hunters into herders : a critical examination of Soviet development policy among the Evenki of southeastern Siberia
Arctic, v. 44, no. 1, Mar. 1991, p. 12-22, ill., map
ASTIS record 30814
The construction of the Baikal-Amur railway corridor through the northern raioni of the Buriat Autonomous Republic and Amurskaia oblast' (R.S.F.S.R.) has had a marked impact on the traditional hunting, trapping, and herding activities of the aboriginal Evenk population. Traditional occupations have been adapted to support large numbers of migrant labourers and a burgeoning urban population. The effects of industrial development range from the ardent promotion of reindeer breeding over other aboriginal economic sectors to the complete marginalization of all aboriginal economic initiatives and their replacement with forms of economy foreign to the region. The significance of industrial development among the Evenki is understood in the context of Soviet development policy. While Soviet prescriptions for the Evenki may be made logically consistent by appealing to an interpretation of world history, when they are evaluated from a regional level of analysis they appear to be both voluntaristic and economistic. The contradictions of Soviet development policy have produced state/civil society conflicts that can be interpreted as a form of alienation.
The pollen record of a 240 cm peat profile in the Ittlemit Lake area in southwest Yukon Territory presents a vegetation development history of the last 9000 radiocarbon years. Spruce migrated into the area at least 9000 radiocarbon years ago. From 9000 yr BP to approximately 5000 yr BP the area supported a sparse Picea-Salix-Betula forest-tundra vegetation. By 5000 yr BP local environmental change created a different habitat primarily affecting the local taxa. Alnus invaded the general area shortly after 5000 yr BP. A local Betula-dominated community replaced the previous Cyperaceae-dominated one at about 3000 yr BP. A Cyperaceae-dominated community again occupied the area at about 1900 yr BP. Although the local community changed several times, the present regional forest-tundra vegetation has had little change during the last 9000 radiocarbon years.
Thaw response of tussock-shrub tundra to experimental all-terrain vehicle disturbances in south-central Alaska
Arctic, v. 44, no. 1, Mar. 1991, p. 31-37, ill., maps
ASTIS record 30816
The vehicle-induced subsurface thaw response in a tussock tundra area was experimentally measured in relation to increasing traffic (10, 50 and 150 passes) applied by different types of lightweight (100-450 kg) all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) compared with a heavier (1200 kg) tracked Weasel (M-29) at four different times during the thaw season: (1) early June, (2) early September. (3) at weekly intervals for 10 weeks from mid-June to early September, and (4) in late July of two successive years. Two years later, in August 1987, three frost-table profiles were constructed for each of 144 test lanes 30 m long by probing at 10 cm intervals along three horizontal reference lines. The test site in south-central Alaska is underlain by "warm" permafrost with a 35 cm thick organic horizon over an ice-rich mineral soil. Early in the thaw season when thaw depths are 10-20 cm, traffic by ATVs can produce as much or more subsurface thaw than a heavier Weasel. Later, in September, the Weasel produced more than the ATVs. Traffic intensity (number of passes) also had a greater effect on thaw response in the spring than in the fall. The thaw response produced by traffic driven at weekly intervals throughout the summer was greater than that produced by traffic confined to early June or September. The downward progression of thaw from May to September results in changing soil moisture levels, bearing strengths and compressibility of the organic and mineral soil horizons.
During the summer of 1987, 500-1000 caribou became stranded on Rideout Island in Bathurst Inlet, Northwest Territories. The 40 sq/km island did not have sufficient forage to support the animals until freeze-up, and the caribou eventually died from malnutrition after severely overgrazing the vegetation. In late July 1988, we found that most of the vascular vegetation on Rideout Island had recovered considerably. Vascular species composition and cover in the two major plant communities were comparable to those in similar communities on the adjacent, moderately grazed mainland. The willows (Salix spp.) and graminoid species were vigorous, and no differences were found in biomass allocation patterns of Salix lanata plants between the island and the mainland. However, essentially all of the macrolichen biomass was eliminated on the island, and full recovery could take more than 20 years.
Broad estimates of bowhead whale numbers in Beaufort Sea outer continental shelf (OCS) waters were calculated based on raw counts of whales seen during aerial surveys conducted in late summer 1982-84, corrected by factors accounting for surface area not sampled, surfaced whales missed by observers, and whales too deep to be seen. Annual estimates ranged from roughly 700-1200 to 3000-3500 whales for the latter half of August and from 2000-2200 to 1600-2900 whales for the first half of September. Additionally, estimates of up to 3000 whales were calculated for subregions of the Beaufort Sea for two separate two-week periods, with adjacent-period estimates of only several hundred whales in the same subregions, implying that whale concentrations were highly transitory. The highest estimate (ca. 3500 whales) accounts for less than half of the estimated 7800 whales in the Bering Sea bowhead population. If the population estimate of 7800 whales is valid, then either a substantial number of whales summered outside Beaufort Sea OCS waters in 1982-84 or bowhead numbers are routinely underestimated by the methods used here, or some combination of both.
Dene use of the resources of Deh Cho, the preferred Slavey name for the Mackenzie River, in the late pre-contact and early post-contact periods is not well understood. This paper examines the archaeological record of the Mackenzie Valley in relation to a model of Native use of the river, based upon Alexander Mackenzie's observations on the exploitation of the fishery at the first direct contact between Europeans and the Dene along Deh Cho. Use of archaeological data, ethnographic analogy and later historic sources provokes the conclusion that Dene land and river resource use did not drastically change as a result of European contact and the fur trade.
Peary caribou (Rangifer tarandus pearyi) and muskox (Ovibos moschatus) numbers were estimated by systematic aerial survey on Bathurst Island and Bathurst's five western major satellite islands of Vanier, Cameron, Alexander, Massey and Marc, Northwest Territories, in 1985 and 1988. The surveys were carried out as part of the Canadian Wildlife Service's most recent evaluation of the status of Peary caribou (1984-88). In July 1985, 727 Peary caribou and 547 muskoxen were estimated on the six-island survey area and in July 1988, 1034 Peary caribou and 522 muskoxen. Post-parturient caribou cows and their newborn calves occurred at significantly greater rates on Massey Island than on the remainder of the survey area in both years. The 1985 and 1988 survey results, plus results from earlier surveys within the area, are used to illustrate how annual inter-island variation in range use within the survey area by varying numbers of caribou could confound population estimates based on aerial surveys of only Bathurst Island that do not also include, at least, the five western major satellite islands.
Radiocarbon dates from eastern Melville Peninsula indicate that deglaciation of western Foxe Basin occurred about 6900 years ago, although late ice persisted in an area northwest of Hall Lake and on the central plateau. Relative sea level was as high as 144 m above present at that time. Two new well-controlled sea level curves depict emergence as an exponential decay function. Marine limit elevations and nested curves indicate a major ice-loading centre in south-central Foxe Basin. These data and archaeological dates suggest a secondary recent rebound centre in the northern part of the basin. Flights of raised beaches, prevalent in the area, are composed of angular limestone fragments and suggest that frost-riving occurs in shallow foreshore environments. The prominent wash line near the marine limit suggests that Foxe Basin had less sea ice cover prior to 6000 years ago but that coastal processes have been similar to present since that time.
Internal structure and environmental significance of a perennial snowbank, Melville Island, N.W.T.
Arctic, v. 44, no. 1, Mar. 1991, p. 74-82, ill., map
ASTIS record 30822
A perennial snowbank located in the continuous permafrost zone was cored to obtain details of its internal structure and history. In spring the snowbank is up to 10 m thick and composed of deep snow accumulated during the previous winter, overlying ice developed by basal ice accretion over many years. The perennial ice exhibits a layered structure with alternating clear and milky bands and contains randomly oriented, variably shaped bubbles. Horizons of aeolian and mudflow deposits occur at irregular intervals and correspond to periods of aggradation and thaw truncation of the snowbank. Tritium concentrations in a core from the deepest portion of the snowbank indicate that the basal 2 m of ice pre-dates 1957. Other layers of ice likely represent precipitation that fell between 1958 and 1962, between 1968 and 1976, and after 1983. Ice developed during the 1963 atmospheric tritium peak is no longer present. Energy balance measurements indicate that potential climatic warming is unlikely to eliminate the perennial portion of the snowbank unless accompanied by substantially less snow drifting at the site.
A female polar bear (Ursus maritimus) and two newborn cubs were found dead at their den site on the Yukon coast. The site investigation and necropsy indicated that den collapse was the cause of death.
R.M. Patterson is recognized by many as one of the finest writers on the Canadian wilderness. While his writing skills earned him a wide and appreciative audience, he was more than a skilled wordsmith. He was also a careful and sympathetic observer, an intrepid explorer and a meticulous historian. Orville Prescott, in the New York Times, described his "Dangerous River as a modest book which betrays no indication that Mr. Patterson realizes what a remarkable man he is." ... He published five books over a span of 14 years: Dangerous River (1954), Buffalo Head (1961), Far Pastures (1963), Trail to the Interior (1966) and Finlay's River (1968). ...