Human Impact on historical game animal abundance in Svalbard (Changes in game animal abundance)

Marine and terrestrial game animals were hunted by parties seeking commercial profit, yet our knowledge of the extent of the hunt and the changes in animal populations is limited. We investigate faunal bone scatters on the surface of former hunting and slaughter sides, to further unravel human animal relationships.

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Project type

  • field work
  • data management
  • education and outreach


  • marine biology
  • terrestrial biology
  • social sciences

Project Keywords

  • human dimensions / environmental impacts / environmental assessments
  • biosphere / ecological dynamics
  • human dimensions / environmental impacts
  • biosphere / zoology

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Marine and terrestial animals display natural resources that were hunted for commercial profit, trade and subsistence since the first documentation of Svalbard in 1596. The archaeological faunal remains often stay and accumulate on the surface. We nowadays find that these surface faunal bone scatters are noticed on a regular basis, however mostly neglected. Moreover threats, such as fluctuating weather conditions, erosions and ongoing anthropogenic activities are constantly increasing, endangering the faunal accumulations. Hence, we want to conduct a systematic archaeozoological field campaign at archaeological sites, holding the remains of human hunting activities. We especially want to assess the former walrus slaughter site Kapp Leestasjonen, as the focus lies on Pomor walrus interactions and the changing population dynamics due to exploitation. Further we want to survey former walrus slaughter sites by 1) archaeozoological fieldwork methods and the 2) further introduction of drone footage data gathering. The traditional archaeozoological data acquisition is based on the identification and quantification of the faunal samples, including non-destructive methods such as the measurement of mandible specimens to assign sex in walrus subpopulations. The methodological procedure of the drone surveys is based on a previous fieldwork approach conducted in Trygghamna in 2019 (RIS-ID 11292) in order to successfully develop a method with minimal disturbance of achaeological ecofacts.

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