ProjectBugs and berries : ecological and social implications of climate change in a Québec subarctic environment
Increases in mean air temperatures, and changes in precipitation and snow cover patterns are important climatic phenomena in subarctic Québec. These may contribute to permafrost degradation, a process which destabilizes soils in affected regions. In 2012, a climate change workshop held in Kawawachikamach, at the Naskapi Community Center, identified changes in insect and berry shrub populations. Very little is known on the role of insects in berry productivity in the Québec subarctic. In response, this project integrates Naskapi knowledge and observations to answer the question: What are the consequences of climate change on the interactions between insects, plants and Naskapi harvesting activities? The objectives that guide this research question are: 1) study the composition of insects at Kawawachikamach, a region characterized by a sporadic permafrost regime, 2) investigate changes in insect-vegetation dynamics over the last 100 years in correlation to climate data, 3) investigate the impact of these changes on harvesting activities in Kawawachikamach, and 4) investigate Naskapi perceptions of insects. Through semi-structures interviews, insect sampling, and sediment coring, this research will create spatial and temporal data on the impacts of climate change on insect populations and on their role in berry productivity, and in turn on harvesting, a cultural activity tightly linked to Naskapi identity.