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

Marine and terrestrial game animals were hunted in search of commercial profit, yet our knowledge of the extent of the hunt and the consequent changes in animal populations is limited. We investigate animal bone scatters on the surface of former hunting and slaughter sites, to further unravel Arctic human-animal-interactions.

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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 are natural resources that were hunted commercially and for subsistence since Svalbard's first documentation in 1596. Anthropogenic animal bone assemblages often stay on the surface. We nowadays find that these bone scatters are noticed on a regular basis, however mostly neglected. Moreover, threats such as fluctuating weather conditions, erosion, and ongoing anthropogenic activities are constantly increasing, endangering the sites. Hence, we want to conduct a systematic archaeozoological field campaign at archaeological sites that comprise the remains of past human hunting activities. We especially want to assess the former walrus slaughter site Dolerittneset (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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