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Historical Marine Ecology in Northwestern Greenland: Insight from Stable Isotope Analysis

Author(s): John Darwent ; Christyann Darwent ; Paul Szpak

Year: 2015

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This study presents stable carbon and nitrogen isotopic compositions for zooarchaeological specimens from three sites in Inglefield Land (northwestern Greenland) representing approximately the last 1,000 years. Isotopic compositions for planktivorous seabirds (little auks, Alle alle) reveal general stability in biogeochemical cycling at the base of the food web since the end of the Medieval Warm Period. On the other hand, marine mammals (ringed seal, bearded seal, walrus) exhibit variable foraging habits across time, with surprisingly high amounts of niche overlap relative to other regions in the Arctic. The results are discussed in light of prehistoric human settlement and subsistence in the region and the potential effects of anthropogenic perturbations on the marine ecosystem.

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Historical Marine Ecology in Northwestern Greenland: Insight from Stable Isotope Analysis. Paul Szpak, Christyann Darwent, John Darwent. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398222)


Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America