Children’s Learning of Ethnobotanical Knowledge in a Rural Caribbean Village

Poster Session
QUINLAN, Marsha B. - Washington State University, Department of Anthropology
Sarah K. COUNCIL - Washington State University, Department of Anthropology
Jennifer W. ROULETTE - Washington State University, Department of Anthropology

Caribbean horticulturalists learn a great deal of traditional ecological knowledge by early adulthood. This is the first study to examine ecological learning in relation to children’s family environments. After identifying culturally salient plant species that village residents learn as youth, 50 children (ages 4-17) participated in a “plant walk” along a “staged” route containing 50 core local plants. Individual children’s plant knowledge was assessed based on proper identification. Family, social and demographic data were also gathered for each child. As predicted, children who live in family compounds demonstrate more ethnobotanical knowledge than children whose neighbors are not close kin. Contrary to pre-dictions, father presence is not an indicator of children’s ability to correctly identify plant species. Further, girls do not show greater levels of ethnobotanical knowledge com-pared to boys. Findings demonstrate that kin investment results in a marked increase in children’s levels of ethnobotanical knowledge. This suggests that parental and alloparental dynamics may involve child investment according to inclusive kin fitness instead of direct fitness.