Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK)

Alex McAlvay
Email address: 
Session Date and Time: 
Thursday, 13 May, 2021 - 15:00 to 16:15
Presentation format: 
Oral (live)
, Anant - University of Tennessee
, Apoorva Kulkarni - University of Oxford
, Andrew - University of Oxford

Even though India has numerous indigenous communities, the published material on Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) is minimal. We document the current state of TEK-related studies in India using Google Scholar and Web of Science. We categorized the results based on collection methods, the scale of TEK collection, and the perseverance of TEK. TEK was more often collected for medicinal or edible plants as compared to other taxa. Few studies recorded TEK holistically at an integrated landscape scale as opposed to the utilitarian taxonomic approach. The reported cultural and ecological significance of TEK for communities was biased by data collection methods. Lastly, we report the efficacy of keywords (e.g., Ethnobiology, Ethnoecology) and search engines in TEK literature search, e.g., Ethnobiology in Google Scholar yielded 70% studies on medicine, 23.3% on edible plants, 3.3% on snakebites, and 3.3% on taxonomy. However, significantly different proportions were obtained using different search terms such as Ethnoecology.

Presentation format: 
Oral (live)
, Christine - University of Miami
Ruiz Morales
, Gustavo - Universidad Hispanoamericana
, Meryl - University of Miami

Controlling the spread of invasive species requires understanding local perceptions. In 1969, the species Zingiber spectabile was introduced from Malaysia to the Wilson Botanical Garden in San Vito, Costa Rica. Growing concern over this species in recent years is due to its dominance in the region’s remaining tropical forests. However, this species is also left to thrive in forests to be harvested for floral arrangements used in churches and local celebrations. By combining interviews with florists, farmers, gardeners, naturalists, scientists, and private forest owners, I will present the current findings of my research that seeks to understand how the local community perceives this species and its invasion. My preliminary findings show how the perception of Z. spectabile as an invasive species is not shared. Interview responses indicate how perceptions depend on ecological knowledge, prior experiences, ideas of beauty, and a sense of what belongs in a tropical forest.

Presentation format: 
Oral (live)
, Mariia - Chiba University Graduate School of Horticulture
, Mitsunari - Chiba University Graduate School of Horticulture

Japanese folk art Tsurushibina is a hanging decoration with amulets handmade from kimono silk by women to their daughters and granddaughters on Girl’s Day (Hinamatsuri). Decorations from the Izu-Inatori area (one of three originating places of Tsurushibina) include 14 plant and 18 animal species. Why were some particular plant and animal species included in the amulet? We hypothesise that the amulet’s symbolism reflects the long-term interaction of the people with biodiversity.

Analyzing interviews and literature in Japanese, we found that protective symbolism arises from sound (play-on-words), color, shape, and characteristics of the natural object, which women wish to give to their child, and often contains TEK. It is also related with Shintoism and Buddhism.

This study suggests that protective symbolism of plant components in ornaments is associated with TEK, e.g. use of these plant components for food and medicine. We call this the "biocultural code".

Presentation format: 
Oral (pre-recorded)
, Jimlea Nadezhda - Tagalog Fisher Community of Mabato Asufre; Ca 'Foscari University of Venice
, Giulia - Ca 'Foscari University of Venice
, Baiba - Ca 'Foscari University of Venice
, Sophia - Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology, Inland Fisheries
, Aimee - Kabulusan Integrated National High School
, Renata - Ca 'Foscari University of Venice

The study of Local Ecological Knowledge (LEK) held by fishers is crucial for better understanding the dynamics of the aquatic ecosystems in which they live. This is especially relevant for those contexts that experience major environmental changes, despite providing crucial ecosystem services. This research aims to explore the LEK held by freshwater fishers of the Laguna Lake, Philippines, regarding its environmental changes including fish species caught and changes in their food use. We conducted 30 semi-structured interviews with experienced fishers. Fishers reported that less fish is captured now than in their earliest fishing activities. Likewise, the main drivers of this change are overfishing, aquaculture, fishkill, the introduction of invasive species, decrease of fish habitats, increased water turbidity. In this pre-recorded presentation, we will listen the narratives linked with fisheries and freshwaters from the voices of indigenous fishers as well as young members of the local community.

Presentation format: 
Oral (live)
, Dai
, Nancy - University of Victoria

The Ainu were historically a hunting, fishing, and gathering society that, at various times, occupied territory in what are now known as Hokkaido, Sakhalin, and the Kuril Archipelago. With our mutual interest in ethnobotany, we compare some common features of traditional plant knowledge and use between Ainu and Northwestern North American First Peoples. While there is no evidence of direct communication or knowledge exchange in the histories of these peoples, there are some intriguing parallels and similarities across species and genera (e.g. Fritillaria camschatcensis as carbohydrate rich food; Taxus wood for bows; Urtica for cordage and nets and Typha for mats), likely due to the properties of the plants themselves, but possibly deriving from some ancient common ancestral knowledge.

Presentation format: 
Oral (live)
, Alex - New York Botanical Garden
, Tesfanesh - Addis Ababa University
Jordan Davalos
, Juan Pablo - Cornell University
, Anna - Cornell University
, A. Catherine - Simon Fraser University
, Asmare - Wollo University
, Sarah - Mekelle University
Woldeyes Gamo
, Feleke - Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute
, Zemede - Addis Ababa University
, Morgan - Clark University
, Alison - Cornell University

Smallholder farmers in Ethiopia rely on a diversity of crop species and varieties to maintain household food security and income in the context of climate change. In the northern highlands, many farmers sow mixtures of wheat and barley that are believed to enhance yield stability, however, farmers’ knowledge, use, and management of these mixtures have not been documented. We conducted 105 structured and 21 semi-structured interviews with farmers in as well as market surveys and semi-structured interviews with local agricultural administrators in Amhara and Tigray regions. Mixtures included up to four barley and two wheat varieties in a single field. Farmers reported that mixtures were more drought (14.6%) and disease (13.5%) tolerant, and of superior taste (25.6%) than sole-cropped varieties but were declining due to government-incentives to plant monocultures. We recommend participatory characterization of these mixtures before rushing to replace them with newly introduced varieties.