This museum-based study of northern biological diversity will link academic, state and federal institutions, and will result in an integrated biological inventory of high-latitude plants, mammals and associated parasites in Siberia, Alaska and Canada. A focus on poorly known regions in the Arctic and subarctic will build a comprehensive picture of biotic structure, evolution, and ecology, establishing a foundation for detecting and predicting responses to accelerated environmental change. Specimens and biological information will be made available via globally accessible databases, providing a pathway to assess the history, relationships and distribution of inter-hemispheric diversity. Cutting-edge molecular tools applied to new collections of plant, mammal, and parasite specimens will allow investigators and students to determine the sequence, age, location, and consequences of major climatic events that structured northern biodiversity.
Broader impacts emerge from the availability of specimens for studies of zoonotic diseases and conservation genetics. The project will provide training and experience for US students participating in highly productive international collaborations in Russia, Finland and Canada. Infrastructure in the US will be strengthened by augmenting museum collection resources, which will be available to scientists and educators for study as they tackle emerging challenges for science and society.