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Journal Article

The influence of a lost society, the Sadlermiut, on the environment in the Canadian Arctic


Viehberg,  Finn A.
External Organizations;

Medeiros,  Andrew S.
External Organizations;


Plessen,  Birgit
4.3 Climate Dynamics and Landscape Evolution, 4.0 Geosystems, Departments, GFZ Publication Database, Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum;

Wang,  Xiaowa
External Organizations;

Muir,  Derek
External Organizations;

Pienitz,  Reinhard
External Organizations;

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Viehberg, F. A., Medeiros, A. S., Plessen, B., Wang, X., Muir, D., Pienitz, R. (2021): The influence of a lost society, the Sadlermiut, on the environment in the Canadian Arctic. - Scientific Reports, 11, 18504.

Cite as: https://gfzpublic.gfz-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_5007873
High latitude freshwater ecosystems are sentinels of human activity and environmental change. The lakes and ponds that characterize Arctic landscapes have a low resilience to buffer variability in climate, especially with increasing global anthropogenic stressors in recent decades. Here, we show that a small freshwater pond in proximity of the archaeological site “Native Point” on Southampton Island (Nunavut, Arctic Canada) is a highly sensitive environmental recorder. The sediment analyses allowed for pinpointing the first arrival of Sadlermiut culture at Native Point to ~ 1250 CE, followed by a dietary shift likely in response to the onset of cooling in the region ~ 1400 CE. The influence of the Sadlermiut on the environment persisted long after the last of their population perished in 1903. Presently, the pond remains a distorted ecosystem that has experienced fundamental shifts in the benthic invertebrate assemblages and accumulated anthropogenic metals in the sediment. Our multi-proxy paleolimnological investigation using geochemical and biological indicators emphasizes that direct and indirect anthropogenic impacts have long-term environmental implications on high latitude ecosystems.