Hungarian part of the international NSF-sponsored Arctic Exploration Group

Photo by Peter Ungar

Peter Ungar, center, in Jamal, Northern Russia.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark -. Peter Ungar, professor of anthropology at the University of Arkansas, and several colleagues who have received a $ 3 million grant from the National Science Foundation focused on the Arctic, the effects of climate change, globalization and infrastructure development on the study are becoming increasingly precarious region.

One of the 10 big ideas of the NSF, “Navigating the New Arctic”, deals with the interactions between social systems, the natural environment and the built environment in the arctic bioclimatic subzones of Yamal, a region in northern Russia, which is considered small-scale and manageable research serves as a model for the entire Arctic.

The aim of the project is to understand how natural, social and built environments in the region react to stress caused by climate change, globalization and infrastructure development. Specific projects will study the effects of high vegetation on animals and reindeer herders; changing influence of snow cover on food webs and animal population dynamics; the impact of the built environment on the reindeer herding system, including the interactions between industrial workers and indigenous peoples; and reindeer management, including the impact of social institutions and markets for reindeer products on community resilience, indigenous traditions and practices, and landscape structure.

With $ 634,000 of the total $ 3 million grant, Ungar will lead the biotics / ecosystem team within the larger project. Your field ecology work will focus on arctic foxes, rodents, reindeer, and plant phenology.

Valeriy Ivanov, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Michigan, is the project’s lead researcher and will lead the abiotic team. John Ziker, Chair and Professor of Anthropology at Boise State University, will lead the anthropological effort. Aleksandr Sokolov, head of the Arctic research station in Yamal, is the leading Russian partner.

At the beginning of this year, Ungar and several colleagues published results in Polar biology and Mammalian Biology This suggests that the diets of arctic foxes and the habitats of different rodent species, as determined by the condition of their teeth, show how different climates and environments in the Arctic affect the animals that live there. The researchers compared the condition of arctic fox and rodent teeth over time and space and found differences in tooth wear patterns related to variations in preferred foods and habitat types.

Studying the effects of different climate conditions in this region will help scientists understand the effects of climate change on endangered animals and could explain future responses and adaptations to the warming trend and thawing in arctic areas.

Seasonal shifts, thawing permafrost and extreme weather conditions in the Arctic have a strong impact on nature and the human world. Plants and animals change seasonal and changing patterns. These changes are increasing the pressure on the livelihoods of the Arctic population.

Other factors such as globalization and the increasing presence of industrial and urban centers also affect the arctic tundra and the livelihoods of indigenous peoples. By considering the impact of several climatic and socio-economic factors on the functioning of an increasingly industrialized region, this project will shed light on processes that pose potential threats to the well-being of arctic communities.

This project includes awards to the University of Michigan; Kansas State University; Boise State University; Ohio State University; Georgia Tech Research Corporation; the University of Colorado Colorado Springs; Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota; University of Tromso in Norway; University of Lapland in Finland; University of Colorado Boulder; Oxford University in England, Russian Academy of Sciences, Ural Branch; and non-governmental organizations in France and the United Kingdom.

Ungar is the director of the Environmental Dynamics program at the University of Arkansas.

About the University of Arkansas: As a flagship institution in Arkansas, the U of A offers internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $ 2.2 billion to the Arkansas economy by providing new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activities, and training in professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation places the U of A in the top 3% of US colleges and universities with the highest research activity. US News & World Report the U of A is one of the best public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to create a better world on Arkansas Research News.

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