PMCC PMCC

Search tips
Search criteria

Advanced
Results 1-25 (455)
 

Clipboard (0)
None

Select a Filter Below

Journals
Year of Publication
more »
1.  Evidence of a link between taboos and sacrifices and resource scarcity of ritual plants 
Background
One of the main obstacles for the mainstreaming of religious traditions as tools for the conservation of nature is the limited applicability of research results in this field. We documented two different restrictions implemented by local people (taboos and sacrifices) related to the use of ritual plants in Benin (West Africa) and Gabon (Central Africa).
Methods
To see whether these restrictions reflected plant scarcity from an etic perspective (official threat status) and an emic viewpoint (perceived scarcity by local people), we conducted 102 interviews with traditional healers and adepts of traditional faiths.
Results
We documented a total of 618 ritual plants, from which 52 species were used in both countries. In Benin, the use of 63 of the 414 ritual plant species was restricted; while in Gabon 23 of the 256 ritual plants were associated with taboos and sacrifices. In Benin, restricted plants were significantly more often officially threatened, perceived as scarce, and actively protected than non-restricted plants. In the more forested and less densely populated Gabon, plants that were perceived as scarce were more often associated to local restrictions than officially threatened species.
Conclusions
These results prove the presence of a form of adaptive management where restrictions are related to resource scarcity and protection of ritual plant species. By providing baseline data on possibly endangered species, we demonstrate how plant use in the context of religious traditions can yield important information for conservation planning.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1746-4269-11-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-11-5
PMCID: PMC4326513  PMID: 25573058
Africa; Benin; Bwiti; Ethnobotany; Gabon; IUCN Red List; Plant conservation; Threatened species; Vodoun
2.  Wildlife use and the role of taboos in the conservation of wildlife around the Nkwende Hills Forest Reserve; South-west Cameroon 
Background
Cameroon is known as Africa in miniature because of its multitude of ecosystems and associated biodiversity, cultures and traditions. The country also harbors very ancient human populations whose relationship with nature is very intimate and where animals play important roles for their livelihood. Located in the South-west region of Cameroon, the Nkwende Hills Forest Reserve (NHFR) represents an important wildlife conservation site because of its strategic position at the periphery of Korup National Park (KNP). The periphery of NHFR is inhabited by several ethnic groups amongst which are the Obang and Ngunnchang clans who share particular relationships with wildlife. The present paper studies these relationships and contributes to the growing trend of scientific ethnozoological studies across Africa.
Method
From August to December 2011, a questionnaire survey was addressed to 126 randomly chosen household respondents (HRs) in seven villages at the Northwest periphery of NHFR. In households, preference was given to parents, and to the eldest child in case the parents were absent. Questions related to the uses and local taboos on wildlife species were asked to HRs.
Results
Both communities have accumulated knowledge on the use of 51 wildlife species of which 50.9% represent mammals, 21.6% birds, 15.7% reptiles, 7.8% fish and 3.9% invertebrates. Four main use categories of wildlife by both communities were identified, namely (1) Food, medicine and sales values (41.2%), (2) Ethnomusical animals and parts used as trophy (29.2%), (3) Decoration and jewelry making values (21.9%) and (4) Magico-religious and multipurpose values (7.8%). Regarding local taboos, species specific taboos (generation totems and acquired totems), habitat taboos (sacred forests), method and segment taboos still persist but are rarely respected among the youth mainly because of the scarcity of wildlife (65.3% of HRs).
Conclusion
Like other communities living around forest areas, the studied communities use wildlife in their culture and tradition. Wildlife is not only used for consumption, but also for traditional medicines, craft materials and spiritual purposes. But, threats to wildlife and their traditional uses are real and acculturation seems to be the main driver. High priority should be given to the reconciling conservation of species with high values for local communities and human needs.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-11-2
PMCID: PMC4326412  PMID: 25567094
Cameroon; Culture; Ngunnchang and Obang communities; Nkwende hill forest reserve; Taboos; Traditional ecological knowledge; Wildlife
3.  Ethnomedicinal use of African pangolins by traditional medical practitioners in Sierra Leone 
Background
Pangolins (Manidae) have long been used for traditional medicinal purposes in most parts of sub-Saharan Africa. However, very little is known about the extent of this use, the body parts that are used and the ailments these practices are attempting to cure or alleviate. Pangolin body parts are used extensively and frequently by traditional medical practitioners in Sierra Leone.
Methods
A total of 63 traditional medical practitioners consented and were interviewed using semi-structured questionnaires on the traditional medicinal use of pangolin body parts. The use value, informant agreement ratio and use agreement value for each pangolin part was calculated to ascertain the most sought after body part, the level of knowledge dissemination among traditional medical practitioners about body parts and the most culturally significant body part.
Results
It was found that 22 pangolin parts are used to treat various ailments and conditions under 17 international categories of diseases. The highest use value was recorded for scales while eyes had the highest level of consensus among the traditional medical practitioners. The highest use value and informant agreement ratio for scales were recorded for spiritual ailments. Scales were the most culturally significant body part according to the use agreement value.
Conclusion
This study indicates a high importance value for pangolins as part of these communities’ spiritual, cultural and medicinal beliefs. However, the numbers of individuals harvested from the wild remains unknown and unregulated even though pangolins have been listed under Schedule 2 of the Wildlife Conservation Act, 1972, of Sierra Leone, which prohibits any person from hunting or being in possession of pangolins. It is likely that this unregulated harvesting and poaching of this threatened species, for medicinal purposes, is unsustainable and there is an urgent need to determine pangolin population abundance within this region to ensure their sustainable harvesting for cultural use and conservation.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-76
PMCID: PMC4247607  PMID: 25412571
Pangolin scales; Pangolin body parts; Spiritual ailments; Conservation; Sierre Leone
4.  Traditional knowledge of wild food plants in a few Tibetan communities 
Background
This paper aims to present the author’s field research data on wild food plant use in Tibetan regions. It provides a general perspective on their significance in past and present Tibet, and examines the concept of wild edible plants as medicinal plants. The fieldwork was conducted in Dhorpatan (Nepal, May-August 1998), Lithang town and surroundings (Sichuan, China, April-September 1999, May-August 2000); Southern Mustang District (Nepal, July-August 2001); and Sapi (Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, India, July 1995, August 2005).
Methods
The research was conducted with 176 informants. The methodology included ethnographic research techniques: participant observation, open-ended conversations, semi-structured interviews, and studies of Tibetan medical texts. The author worked in the field with Tibetan colloquial and written language.
Results
The 75 total wild food plants and mushrooms belong to 36 genera and 60 species. 44 specimens are used as vegetables, 10 as spices\condiments, 15 as fruits, 3 as ferments to prepare yoghurt and beer, 5 as substitutes for tsampa (roasted barley flour, the traditional staple food of Tibetan people), 4 as substitutes for tea, and 3 to prepare other beverages. Data from Lithang, which are more representative, show that among 30 wild food plant species exploited, 21 are consumed as vegetables, 5 as spices, 4 as fruits, 3 represent substitutes for roasted barley flour, 2 substitutes for tea, and 1 is used as fermentation agent.
Conclusion
Tibetans have traditionally exploited few wild food plants. These mainly compensate for the lack of vegetables and fruit in traditional Tibetan diet, notably among pastoralists, and are far more important during famines as substitutes for roasted barley flour. Today few wild food plants are regularly consumed, less in the main towns and villages and moreso in remote areas and among pastoralists. Younger generations from towns have almost lost traditional botanical knowledge. Owing to modernisation and globalisation processes, many local people have specialised in collecting natural products increasingly demanded in China and abroad. Tibetan people strongly benefit from these activities. Tibetan medicine sees diet as a way of curing diseases and medical treatises describe therapeutic properties of several wild food plants that Tibetans nowadays consume.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-75
PMCID: PMC4232625  PMID: 25366064
Wild edible plants; Traditional knowledge; Tibet
5.  Analysis of traditional knowledge of medicinal plants from residents in Gayasan National Park (Korea) 
Background
The purpose of this study is to investigate and analyze the traditional knowledge of medicinal plants used by residents in Gayasan National Park in order to obtain basic data regarding the sustainable conservation of its natural plant ecosystem.
Methods
Data was collected using participatory observations and in-depth interviews, as the informants also become investigators themselves through attending informal meetings, open and group discussions, and overt observations with semi-structured questionnaires. Quantitative analyses were accomplished through the informant consensus factor (ICF), fidelity level, and inter-network analysis (INA).
Results
In total, 200 species of vascular plants belonging to 168 genera and 87 families were utilized traditionally in 1,682 ethnomedicianal practices. The representative families were Rosaceae (6.5%) followed by Asteraceae (5.5%), Poaceae (4.5%), and Fabaceae (4.0%). On the whole, 27 kinds of plant-parts were used and prepared in 51 various ways by the residents for medicinal purposes. The ICF values in the ailment categories were muscular-skeletal disorders (0.98), pains (0.97), respiratory system disorders (0.97), liver complaints (0.97), and cuts and wounds (0.96). In terms of fidelity levels, 57 plant species showed fidelities levels of 100%. Regarding the inter-network analysis (INA) between ailments and medicinal plants within all communities of this study, the position of ailments is distributed into four main groups.
Conclusion
The results of the inter-network analysis will provide a suitable plan for sustainable preservation of the national park through a continued study of the data. Particular species of medicinal plants need to be protected for a balanced plant ecosystem within the park. Consequently, through further studies using these results, proper steps need to be established for preparing a wise alternative to create a sustainable natural plant ecosystem for Gayasan National Park and other national parks.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-74
PMCID: PMC4216341  PMID: 25336281
Traditional knowledge; Informant consensus factor; Fidelity level; Inter-network analysis; Gayasan National Park
6.  Diversity of wetland plants used traditionally in China: a literature review 
Background
In comparison with terrestrial plants, those growing in wetlands have been rarely studied ethnobotanically, including in China, yet people living in or near wetlands can accumulate much knowledge of the uses of local wetland plants. A characteristic of wetlands, cutting across climatic zones, is that many species are widely distributed, providing opportunities for studying general patterns of knowledge of the uses of plants across extensive areas, in the present case China. There is urgency in undertaking such studies, given the rapid rates of loss of traditional knowledge of wetland plants as is now occurring.
Methods
There have been very few studies specifically on the traditional knowledge of wetland plants in China. However, much information on such knowledge does exist, but dispersed through a wide body of literature that is not specifically ethnobotanical, such as regional Floras. We have undertaken an extensive study of such literature to determine which species of wetland plants have been used traditionally and the main factors influencing patterns shown by such knowledge. Quantitative techniques have been used to evaluate the relative usefulness of different types of wetland plants and regression analyses to determine the extent to which different quantitative indices give similar results.
Results
350 wetland plant species, belonging to 66 families and 187 genera, were found to have been used traditionally in China for a wide range of purposes. The top ten families used, in terms of numbers of species, were Poaceae, Polygonaceae, Cyperaceae, Lamiaceae, Asteraceae, Ranunculaceae, Hydrocharitaceae, Potamogetonaceae, Fabaceae, and Brassicaceae, in total accounting for 58.6% of all species used. These families often dominate wetland vegetation in China. The three most widely used genera were Polygonum, Potamogeton and Cyperus. The main uses of wetlands plants, in terms of numbers of species, were for medicine, food, and forage. Three different ways of assigning an importance value to species (Relative Frequency of Citation RFC; Cultural Importance CI; Cultural Value Index CV) all gave similar results.
Conclusions
A diverse range of wetland plants, in terms of both taxonomic affiliation and type of use, have been used traditionally in China. Medicine, forage and food are the three most important categories of use, the plants providing basic resources used by local people in their everyday lives. Local availability is the main factor influencing which species are used. Quantitative indexes, especially Cultural Value Index, proved very useful for evaluating the usefulness of plants as recorded in the literature.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-72
PMCID: PMC4210556  PMID: 25318542
Wetland plants; Traditional knowledge; Literature study; China
7.  Depredation of domestic herds by pumas based on farmer’s information in Southern Brazil 
Background
Large carnivores such as pumas are frequently killed due to conflicts with human populations involving predation on domestic herds. In Southern Brazil, traditional pasture systems, where animals feed without specific husbandry practices is typical, becoming the herds vulnerable to puma attacks. The aim of this study was to examine the conflict between local people and pumas in a Protected Areas mosaic in southern Brazil.
Methods
Forty-five face-to-face interviews with local people were performed during the year of 2011, using a structured questionnaire with open and closed questions about puma attack episodes in some farms. Based on responses, the conflict and puma attacks were described, and the characteristics of attacked farms and estimated financial losses were evaluated. The first respondents were indicated by the Local Environmental Agency, and the others were indicated by the first one and so on, which is known as “snow-ball” method.
Results
Our data suggested that pumas used to attack in unfavorable conditions of visibility (foggy days) and on easier prey (e.g. sheep). Most of the attacks reported were close to forested areas and were focused on free herds during feeding activities. Some farmers said they gave up their sheep breeding activity due to losses caused by puma attacks. However, some farmers could over estimate their losses. Moreover, pumas were considered a threat to domestic herds and respondents mentioned cases of illegal puma hunting in the area. The results of questionnaires suggested that puma attack episodes were related to fragmentation of their habitat associated to incorrect management of herds in the farms studied. The diagnosis of this type of conflict and the characterization of most attacked sites are extremely important to create strategies to prevent and control attacks by wild carnivores.
Conclusions
Deep changes in husbandry practices added to educational programs should be implemented, in order to maintain the sustainability of rural activities as well as the survival of pumas in southern Brazil.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-73) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-73
PMCID: PMC4271476  PMID: 25318598
Protected Areas; Human-wildlife conflict; Predation on domestic herds; Puma concolor; Southern Brazil
8.  Economic benefits of high value medicinal plants to Pakistani communities: an analysis of current practice and potential 
Background
Poverty is pervasive in the Swat Valley, Pakistan. Most of the people survive by farming small landholdings. Many earn additional income by collecting and selling plant material for use in herbal medicine. This material is collected from wild populations but the people involved have little appreciation of the potential value of the plant material they collect and the long term impact their collecting has on local plant populations.
Methods
In 2012, existing practices in collecting and trading high value minor crops from Swat District, Pakistan, were analyzed. The focus of the study was on the collection pattern of medicinal plants as an economic activity within Swat District and the likely destinations of these products in national or international markets. Local collectors/farmers and dealers were surveyed about their collection efforts, quantities collected, prices received, and resulting incomes. Herbal markets in major cities of Pakistan were surveyed for current market trends, domestic sources of supply, imports and exports of herbal material, price patterns, and market product-quality requirements.
Results
It was observed that wild collection is almost the only source of medicinal plant raw material in the country, with virtually no cultivation. Gathering is mostly done by women and children of nomadic Middle Hill tribes who earn supplementary income through this activity, with the plants then brought into the market by collectors who are usually local farmers. The individuals involved in gathering and collecting are largely untrained regarding the pre-harvest and post-harvest treatment of collected material. Most of the collected material is sold to local middlemen. After that, the trade pattern is complex and heterogeneous, involving many players.
Conclusions
Pakistan exports of high value plants generate over US$10.5 million annually in 2012, with a substantial percentage of the supply coming from Swat District, but its market share has been declining. Reasons for the decline were identified as unreliable and often poor quality of the material supplied, length of the supply chain, and poor marketing strategies. These problems can be addressed by improving the knowledge of those at the start of the supply chain, improving linkages among all steps in the chain, and developing sustainable harvesting practices.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-71
PMCID: PMC4199063  PMID: 25304516
Economic development; Market ethnobotany; Medicinal plants; Tribal communities; Value chain analysis
9.  The river and the sea: fieldwork in human ecology and ethnobiology 
This article is a commentary on the experiences that motivated my decision to become a human ecologist and ethnobiologist. These experiences include the pleasure of studying and of having the sense of being within nature, as well as the curiosity towards understanding the world and minds of local people. In particular, such understanding could be driven by addressing the challenging questions that originate in the interactions of such individuals with their natural surroundings. I have been particularly interested in the sea and the riverine forests that are inhabited by coastal or riverine small-scale fishers. Sharing the distinctive world of these fishers enjoyably incited my curiosity and challenged me to understand why fishers and their families ‘do as they do’ for their livelihoods including their beliefs. This challenge involved understanding the rationality (or the arguments or views) that underlies the decisions these individuals make in their interaction with nature. This curiosity was fundamental to my career choice, as were a number of reading interests. These reading interests included political economy and philosophy; evolution and sociobiology; evolutionary, human, and cultural ecology; cultural transmission; fisheries; local knowledge; ecological economics; and, naturally, ethnobiology.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-70
PMCID: PMC4271506  PMID: 25277227
10.  Wild food plants traditionally consumed in the area of Bologna (Emilia Romagna region, Italy) 
Background
This research was performed in an area belonging to the province of the city of Bologna (Emilia-Romagna region, Northern Italy). The purpose of the present survey was to record the local knowledge concerning traditional uses of wild food plants and related practices, such as gathering, processing, cooking, therapeutic uses, with the aim of preserving an important part of the local cultural heritage.
Methods
Thirty-nine people still retaining Traditional Local Knowledge (TLK) were interviewed between March-April 2012 and September - October 2013 by means of open and semi-structured ethnobotanical interviews. For each plant species mentioned, we recorded the botanical family, the English common name, the Italian common and/or folk names, the parts of the plant used, the culinary preparation, and the medicinal usage. The relative frequency of citation index (RFC), a tool that measures the local cultural importance of a plant species, was also included.
Results
The folk plants mentioned by the respondents belonged to 33 botanical families, of which the Rosaceae (14 plants) and the Asteraceae (9 plants) were the most representative. The species with the highest RFC index (0.77) were Crepis vesicaria subsp. taraxacifolia (Thuill) Thell and Taraxacum officinale Weber. Eleven folk plants were indicated as having therapeutic effects. T. officinale Weber, C. vesicaria subsp. taraxacifolia (Thuill) Thell and Sonchus spp., which are used as food, were reported to be depurative, blood cleaning, refreshing, diuretic and laxative. The most commonly used species was Urtica spp, which was also the most frequently cited for medicinal uses.
Conclusions
The present survey documented the wild food plant traditional knowledge of an area belonging to the province of the city of Bologna (Emilia-Romagna region, Northern Italy). The general perception obtained is that on one side the TLK related to wild food plants has strongly been eroded, mainly due to immigration and urbanization phenomena, whereas on the other side these plants are revaluated today because they are perceived as healthy and also because they represent the preservation of biodiversity and a way of getting back to nature.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-69) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-69
PMCID: PMC4189172  PMID: 25258146
Ethnobotany; Traditional local knowledge; Wild food plants; Bologna; Emilia-Romagna region; Crepis vesicaria subsp. taraxacifolia; Urtica spp
11.  An ethnobotanical study of the less known wild edible figs (genus Ficus) native to Xishuangbanna, Southwest China 
Background
The genus Ficus, collectively known as figs, is a key component of tropical forests and is well known for its ethnobotanical importance. In recent decades an increasing number of studies have shown the indigenous knowledge about wild edible Ficus species and their culinary or medicinal value. However, rather little is known about the role of these species in rural livelihoods, because of both species and cultural diversity.
Methods
In this study we 1) collected the species and ethnic names of wild edible Ficus exploited by four cultural groups in Xishuangbanna, Southwest China, and 2) recorded the collection activities and modes of consumption through semi-structured interviews, 3) investigated the resource management by a statistical survey of their field distribution and cultivation, and 4) compared and estimated the usage intensities by the grading method.
Results
The young leaves, leaf buds and young or ripe syconia of 13 Ficus species or varieties are traditionally consumed. All the species had fixed and usually food-related ethnic names. All four cultural groups are experienced in the collection and use of edible Ficus species as vegetables, fruits or beverages, with the surplus sold for cash income. Different cultural groups use the Ficus species at different intensities because of differences in availability, forest dependency and cultural factors. Both the mountain and basin villagers make an effort to realize sustainable collection and meet their own and market needs by resource management in situ or cultivation.
Conclusions
In comparison with reports from other parts of the world, ethnic groups in Xishuangbanna exploited more edible Ficus species for young leaves or leaf buds. Most of the edible species undergo a gradient of management intensities following a gradient of manipulation from simple field gathering to ex situ cultivation. This study contributes to our understanding of the origins and diffusion of the knowledge of perception, application and managing a group of particular plant species, and how the local culture, economic and geographical factors influence the process.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-68
PMCID: PMC4246566  PMID: 25252723
Ficus; Ethnobotany; Management; Fruit; Vegetables; Xishuangbanna
12.  Knowledge and use of edible mushrooms in two municipalities of the Sierra Tarahumara, Chihuahua, Mexico 
Background
The Sierra Madre Occidental of Chihuahua in Northern Mexico is inhabited by indigenous Raramuris, mestizos, and other ethnic groups. The territory consists of canyons and ravines with pine, oak and pine-oak forests in the higher plateaus. A great diversity of potentially edible mushrooms is found in forests of the Municipalities of Bocoyna and Urique. Their residents are the only consumers of wild mushrooms in the Northern Mexico; they have a long tradition of collecting and eating these during the “rainy season.” However, despite the wide diversity of edible mushrooms that grow in these areas, residents have a selective preference. This paper aims to record evidence of the knowledge and use of wild potentially edible mushroom species by inhabitants of towns in the Sierra Tarahumara of Chihuahua, Mexico.
Method
Using a semi-structured technique, we surveyed 197 habitants from seven locations in Urique, Bocoyna, and the Cusarare area from 2010 to 2012. Known fungi, local nomenclature, species consumed, preparation methods, appreciation of taste, forms of preservation, criteria for differentiating toxic and edible fungi, other uses, economic aspects, and traditional teaching were recorded. To identify the recognized species, photographic stimuli of 22 local edible species and two toxic species were used.
Results
The respondents reported preference for five species: Amanita rubescens, Agaricus campestris, Ustilago maydis, Hypomyces lactifluorum, and the Amanita caesarea complex. No apparent differences were found between ethnic groups in terms of preference, although mestizos used other species in Bocoyna (Boletus edulis and B. pinophilus). Some different uses of fungi are recognized by respondents, i.e. home decorations, medicine, as food in breeding rams, etc.
Conclusion
The studied population shows a great appreciation towards five species, mainly the A. caesarea complex, and an apparent lack of knowledge of nearly 20 species which are used as food in other areas of Mexico. There are no apparent differences among Sierra inhabitants in terms of gender, occupation, or language regarding the recognition and consumption of species. The rejection of certain species is due mainly to fear of poisoning and the traditional selective teaching of families in the mountain communities of the Sierra Tarahumara.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-67) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-67
PMCID: PMC4177763  PMID: 25230891
Wild edible mushrooms; Mestizos; Raramuris; Forest; Chihuahua
13.  Morphological variation, management and domestication of ‘maguey alto’ (Agave inaequidens) and ‘maguey manso’ (A. hookeri) in Michoacán, México 
Background
Agave inaequidens and A. hookeri are anciently used species for producing the fermented beverage ‘pulque’, food and fiber in central Mexico. A. inaequidens is wild and cultivated and A. hookeri only cultivated, A. inaequidens being its putative wild relative. We analysed purposes and mechanisms of artificial selection and phenotypic divergences between wild and managed populations of A. inaequidens and between them and A. hookeri, hypothesizing phenotypic divergence between wild and domesticated populations of A. inaequidens in characters associated to domestication, and that A. hookeri would be phenotypically similar to cultivated A. inaequidens.
Methods
We studied five wild and five cultivated populations of A. inaequidens, and three cultivated populations of A. hookeri. We interviewed agave managers documenting mechanisms of artificial selection, and measured 25 morphological characters. Morphological similarity and differentiation among plants and populations were analysed through multivariate methods and ANOVAs.
Results
People recognized 2–8 variants of A. inaequidens; for cultivation they select young plants collected in wild areas recognized as producing the best quality mescal agaves. Also, they collect seeds of the largest and most vigorous plants, sowing seeds in plant beds and then transplanting the most vigorous plantlets into plantations. Multivariate methods classified separately the wild and cultivated populations of A. inaequidens and these from A. hookeri, mainly because of characters related with plant and teeth size. The cultivated plants of A. inaequidens are significantly bigger with larger teeth than wild plants. A. hookeri are also significatly bigger plants with larger leaves but lower teeth density and size than A. inaequidens. Some cultivated plants of A. inaequidens were classified as A. hookeri, and nearly 10% of A. hookeri as cultivated A. inaequidens. Wild and cultivated populations of A. inaequidens differed in 13 characters, whereas A. hookeri differed in 23 characters with wild populations and only in 6 characters with cultivated populations of A. inaequidens.
Conclusions
Divergence between wild and cultivated populations of A. inaequidens reflect artificial selection. A. hookeri is similar to the cultivated A. inaequidens, which supports the hypothesis that A. hookeri could be the extreme of a domestication gradient of a species complex.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-66
PMCID: PMC4177152  PMID: 25227277
Domestication; Mescal agave; Phenotypic variation; Plant management; Pulque
14.  Common opossum (Didelphis marsupialis Linnaeus, 1758): food and medicine for people in the Amazon 
Background
In the Amazon rainforest, biodiversity is a significant resource for traditional communities, as it can be used as a relevant source of protein and it has a promising zootherapeutic potential. Studies on knowledge and ways how local peoples use the fauna are still incipient. This paper presents both the knowledge on and food and medicinal uses of common opossum (Didelphis marsupialis) by riverine communities in an Amazon floodplain region.
Methods
The study was conducted with riverine communities in the municipality of Abaetetuba, Pará, Brazil. The main methods used were structured and semi-structured interviews, the “snowball” technique, and participant observation.
Results
The study showed that D. marsupialis has an undeniable cultural significance for the local community, both in terms of food and medicine. Its meat is prized by inhabitants as it is classified as tasty, soft and, in some cases, it is designated as the best bushmeat in the region. The interviewees have demonstrated a thorough knowledge on various aspects of the animal’s biology, such as its diet, behavior, and places of occurrence. The hunting activity is practiced by men, but the preparation of meat and medicinal oil are tasks mainly performed by women. In medical terms, common opossum is used in the treatment of various diseases, such as rheumatism, asthma, sore throat, and inflammation. Given the importance of this species, its meat or live individuals are often sold in the city fair at prices that can reach R$ 40.00 (U$D 18,00) per individual.
Conclusions
D. marsupialis is an important source of protein for riverine communities in the region studied. Its fat is used as a traditional medicine and it is indicated for many types of diseases. Although the species concerned is treated with hostility in various Brazilian regions, in the case of Abaetetuba this animal is strongly prized due to the good quality of its meat. However, despite the value assigned to the species, its consumption should be the subject of further studies, as this marsupial species has been described as a reservoir for parasites that cause severe diseases.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-65
PMCID: PMC4167517  PMID: 25209094
Ethnozoology; Didelphis marsupialis; Traditional Medicine; Hunting; Amazon rainforest
15.  Knowledge and extractivism of Stryphnodendron rotundifolium Mart. in a local community of the Brazilian Savanna, Northeastern Brazil 
Background
This study aims to understand how the stem bark of Stryphnodendron rotundifolium Mart. is used by a rural community in the savanna of Northeastern Brazil, associated with a preliminary assessment involving plant population structure and extractivism in the main sites of collection.
Methods
A population structure study and analysis of bark extractivism was conducted in two sites: one within the forest and another at its edge. We had the intention of testing whether there are differences between these sites; since the local extractive practice is prohibited, expecting more intense extraction in the forest interior than its edge by the local fiscalization. We interviewed 120 informants who reported knowing and using the species, and also the places of extractivism. We also calculated quantitative measures of local knowledge, and the influence of gender and age on the knowledge about this species.
Results
Knowledge of the uses was evenly distributed between men and women. A total of 28 specimens were recorded at Site 1, whereas 23 were identified at Site 2, with the specimens at both sites distributed in 4-diameter classes with 4-cm intervals. Nine of the specimens found in Site 1 (32.14%) showed some sign of extraction. No specimen from Site 2 showed signs of extraction. In Site 1, the total area of stem bark removed was 43,468 cm2, and the total area of stem bark available was 33,200 cm2. In Site 2, only the available stem-bark area of 44,666 cm2 was identified because no specimens were harvested. There is no difference in knowledge of this species regarding the gender and age.
Conclusions
Stryphnodendron rotundifolium is a key resource for the studied community. A large proportion of bark collected from the first diameter size class may affect the growth of these individuals and may influence the recruitment process. Perhaps, this effect may explain the absence of individuals in some size classes.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-64
PMCID: PMC4246571  PMID: 25204893
Traditional botanical knowledge; Ethnobotany; Medicinal plants; Plant conservation
16.  Distribution, abundance and traditional management of Agave potatorum in the Tehuacán Valley, Mexico: bases for sustainable use of non-timber forest products 
Background
Agave species have been used for thousands of years in the Tehuacán Valley, but the current mescal production has great impact on populations of the most used species. Harvesting of A. potatorum takes place before sexual reproduction and the over-extraction put local populations at high risk. In the community of San Luis Atolotilán (SLA), mescal has been produced for one century but the growing mescal trade is leading to intensified agave extraction. Our study evaluated distribution and abundance of A. potatorum, extraction rates, management practices and economic importance for SLA households. The unbalanced relation between availability and extraction rates would be an indicator of risk requiring sustainable management strategies. Our case study aspires contributing to analyze general patterns for sustainable use for this and other forest products highly extracted.
Methods
We used bioclimatic modeling to project a map of potential distribution of the species, and ecological sampling to estimate the total availability of harvestable agaves within the territory of SLA. We used participant observation, surveys and semi-structured interviews with producers and households of SLA to document agave uses, technological and socio-economic aspects of mescal production, and to estimate extraction rates of agaves.
Results
Mescal production, medicine and fodder are the most important uses of A. potatorum. Its distribution area is nearly 608 ha where annually occur on average 7,296 harvestable plants, nearly 54 to 87% of them being harvested. Mescal production currently is a non-sustainable activity, requiring great changes in patterns of extraction and management adopting sustainable criteria. Local people started management planning to ensure the future availability of agaves, and the ecological information of this study has been helpful in constructing their decisions. Technical support for improving local experiences for managing populations’ recovering is a priority. Interaction of scholars and local people for solving this problem is already taking place and strengthening this process may be determinant for successful results.
Conclusions
Strategies for protecting particular populations, temporal substitution of agave species for mescal production, implementation of restoration and organization for fear commerce are needed for improving sustainable use of A. potatorum.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-63
PMCID: PMC4237816  PMID: 25185769
Agave potatorum; Maguey; Mescal; Non-timber forest products; Plant management; Sustainable use; Tehuacán valley
17.  Ethnobotany in Rayones, Nuevo León, México 
Background
Trough collections of plants and interviews with 110 individuals, an ethnobotanical study was conducted in order to determine the knowledge and use plant species in Rayones, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. The aim of this study was to record all useful plants and their uses, to know whether differences exist in the knowledge about the number of species and uses between women and men, and to know if there is a correlation between the age of individuals and knowledge of species and their uses.
Methods
A total of 110 persons were interviewed (56 men, 56 women). Semistructured interviews were carried out. The data were analyzed by means of Student t test and the Pearson Correlation Coeficient.
Results
A total of 252 species, 228 genera and 91 families of vascular plants were recorded. Astraceae, Fabaceae and are the most important families with useful species and Agave and Opuntia are the genera with the highest number of useful species. One hundred and thirty six species are considered as medicinal. Agave, Acacia and Citrus are the genera with the highest number of medicinal species. Other uses includes edible, spiritual rituals, construction and ornamentals. There was a non-significant correlation between the person’s age and number of species, but a significant very low negative correlation between the person’s age and number of uses was found.
Conclusions
Knowing their medicinal uses is an important issue for the people of Rayones. Boiling and preparing infusions are the main ways of using plants by residents. The leaves, the branches, and the fruits are the most commonly used parts. Almost 18% of the flora is used for wood and construction purposes. Several uses such as cosmetic, shampoo, firming skin tonics and health hair products recorded in Rayones has not been reported for other areas in the state of Nuevo León. In Rayones, women have a greater knowledge about plants and their uses than men, particularly, medicinal plants, but, men have a greater knowledge about wood and construction species.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-62
PMCID: PMC4237796  PMID: 25179469
Ethnobotany; Medicinal; Food; Construction; Ceremonial; Ornamental species; Rayones; Nuevo León; México
18.  Medicinal plants in the cultural landscape of a Mapuche-Tehuelche community in arid Argentine Patagonia: an eco-sensorial approach 
Background
The taste and smell of medicinal plants and their relation to the cultural landscape of a Mapuche-Tehuelche community in the Patagonian steppe was investigated. We assume that the landscapes as a source of therapeutic resources is perceived, classified and named according to different symbolic, ecological and utilitarian criteria which are influenced by chemosensorial appearance of medicinal plants which are valued by inhabitants.
Methods
Information relating to the cultural landscape experienced by 18 inhabitants, all representing 85% of the families, in terms of medicinal plants, knowledge of species and their organoleptic perception was obtained through participant observation, interviews and free listing. The data were examined using cualitative and quantitative approach, including discourse analysis and non-parametric statistics.
Results
Informants use 121 medicinal species, obtained from both wild and non-wild environments, most of which (66%) present aroma and/or taste. It was found that the plants with highest use consensus used for digestive, respiratory, cardio-vascular, analgesic-anti-inflammatory, obstetric-gynaecological and genito-unrinary complaints, have the highest frequencies of cites reporting flavor; and those with the highest frequencies relating to digestive, analgesic-anti-inflammatory and cultural syndromes present the highest frequencies of aroma. Flavor and/or aroma are interpreted as strong or soft, and the strongest are associated with treatment of supernatural ailments. Also, taste is a distinctive trait for the most of the species collected in all natural units of the landscape, while aroma is more closely associated with species growing at higher altitudes. The local pharmacopeia is also enriched with plants that come from more distant phytogeographical environments, such as the Andean forest and the Patagonian Monte, which are obtained through barter with neighboring populations. Herbal products are also obtained in regional shop. The practices of barter and purchase extend the limits of the landscape as a provider of therapeutic resources, improving the dynamics of its functions and structure, leading to more effective solutions to the various health needs that arise in the community.
Conclusions
Herbal landscape perceived by the community exhibits notable eco sensorial and spatial heterogeneity. Local inhabitants’ sensorial interpretations play a role as heuristic tools in the recreation and redefinition of old and new available resources.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-61
PMCID: PMC4150423  PMID: 25159153
Patagonia; Argentina; Medicinal traditional knowledge; Organoleptic traits
19.  Traditional uses of plants in a rural community of Mozambique and possible links with Miombo degradation and harvesting sustainability 
Background
Miombo woodlands play an important role in the livelihood of people living in sub-equatorial African countries, contributing to satisfy basic human needs such as food, medicine, fuelwood and building materials. However, over-exploitation of plant resources and unsustainable harvest practices can potentially degrade forests. The aim of this study was to document the use of Miombo plant products, other than medicinal plants, in local communities, within a wider framework in which we discussed possible links between traditional uses and conservation status of the used species and of the whole Miombo environment.
Methods
Fieldwork took place in four communities of Muda-Serração, central Mozambique. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 52 informants about their knowledge, use and harvesting practices of useful plants. A survey on local Miombo vegetation was also carried out in order to assess abundance and distribution of useful woody plants cited in the interviews in areas exposed to different exploitation rates. A Conservation Priority index was also applied to rank conservation values of each used woody species.
Results
Ninety-eight plants cited by the informants were botanically identified. The most relevant general category was represented by food plants (45 species), followed by handicraft plants (38 species) and domestic plants (37 species). Among the 54 woody species observed in vegetation plots, 52% were cited as useful in the interviews. Twenty-six woody species found in ‘natural’ Miombo areas were not found in ‘degraded’ ones: of these, 46% were cited in the interviews (58% in the food category, 50% in the handicraft category, 25% in the domestic category and 8% in the fishing category). Results of conservation ranking showed that 7 woody species deserve conservation priority in the investigated area.
Conclusions
This study shows that the communities investigated rely heavily on local forest products for their daily subsistence requirements in food, firewood/charcoal and building materials. However, over-exploitation and destructive collection seem to threaten the survival of some of the woody species used. A sustainable approach including the involvement of local communities in the management of woody species is recommended.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-59
PMCID: PMC4112836  PMID: 25056487
Miombo; Mozambique; Ethnobotany; Non-timber forest products; Natural and degraded woodlands; Conservation priority
20.  Ritual uses of palms in traditional medicine in sub-Saharan Africa: a review 
Palms (Arecaceae) are prominent elements in African traditional medicines. It is, however, a challenge to find detailed information on the ritual use of palms, which are an inextricable part of African medicinal and spiritual systems. This work reviews ritual uses of palms within African ethnomedicine. We studied over 200 publications on uses of African palms and found information about ritual uses in 26 of them. At least 12 palm species in sub-Saharan Africa are involved in various ritual practices: Borassus aethiopum, Cocos nucifera, Dypsis canaliculata, D. fibrosa, D. pinnatifrons, Elaeis guineensis, Hyphaene coriacea, H. petersiana, Phoenix reclinata, Raphia farinifera, R. hookeri, and R. vinifera. In some rituals, palms play a central role as sacred objects, for example the seeds accompany oracles and palm leaves are used in offerings. In other cases, palms are added as a support to other powerful ingredients, for example palm oil used as a medium to blend and make coherent the healing mixture. A better understanding of the cultural context of medicinal use of palms is needed in order to obtain a more accurate and complete insight into palm-based traditional medicines.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-60
PMCID: PMC4222890  PMID: 25056559
Arecaceae; Magic plants; Treatment; Healing; Sacred places; Witchcraft
21.  Ethnobotanical and economic value of Ravenala madagascariensis Sonn. in Eastern Madagascar 
Background
Known worldwide as the “traveler’s tree”, the Malagasy endemic species Ravenala madagascariensis Sonn. (Strelitziaceae) is considered as an iconic symbol of Madagascar. It is a widespread species in the eastern part of the country with four different varieties which are well represented in Ambalabe community. All of them are used for different purposes and the species represents an important cultural value in the lives of the local population. However, uses of Ravenala are only generally well known by local population. Thus, in this study, we report on the different uses of Ravenala and its importance to the Ambalabe local people.
Methods
Semi-structured interviews among 116 people, 59 men and 57 women with ages ranging from 17 to 84 years old, free listing and market surveys were conducted in order to collect the vernacular names, the uses of Ravenala madagascariensis and the price of plant parts sold in local market. Then, the uses were categorized according to Cámara-Leret et al. classification.
Results
Different parts of the plant are currently used by local population, which are grouped as heart, trunk, leaves, petioles and rachis. Seven categories of use were recorded, most cited include: human food, utensils and tools, and house building. The most commonly used parts are trunk, heart, leaves and petioles for which the price varies between $3-15. Uses mentioned for construction (floor, roofs and wall), human food and utensils and tools are the most frequent and salient for local population. But the use of the plant as first materials for house building is revealed to be the most important for them.
Conclusions
Ravenala madagascariensis is very important to the Ambalabe communities because for local population, it represents the Betsimisaraka cultural and traditional use of the plant for house building. Moreover, none of its parts are discarded. The harvest and sale of R. madagascariensis for building materials can also provide an additional source of income to the family. Besides, using Ravenala in house construction reduces the use of slow growing trees and contributes to the sustainable use of natural forest resources.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-57
PMCID: PMC4106185  PMID: 25027625
Ravenala madagascariensis; Ambalabe; Madagascar; Ethnobotany; Uses; Conservation
22.  Anchoring durum wheat diversity in the reality of traditional agricultural systems: varieties, seed management, and farmers’ perception in two Moroccan regions 
Background
Traditional agrosystems are the places were crop species have evolved and continue to evolve under a combination of human and environmental pressures. A better knowledge of the mechanisms underlying the dynamics of crop diversity in these agrosystems is crucial to sustain food security and farmers’ self-reliance. It requires as a first step, anchoring a description of the available diversity in its geographical, environmental, cultural and socio-economic context.
Methods
We conducted interviews with farmers cultivating durum wheat in two contrasted traditional agrosystems of Morocco in the Pre-Rif (163 farmers) and in the oases of the Atlas Mountains (110 farmers). We documented the varietal diversity of durum wheat, the main characteristics of the farms, the farming and seed management practices applied to durum wheat, and the farmers’ perception of their varieties.
Results
As expected in traditional agrosystems, farmers largely practiced diversified subsistence agriculture on small plots and relied on on-farm seed production or informal seed exchange networks. Heterogeneity nevertheless prevailed on many variables, especially on the modernization of practices in the Pre-Rif region. Fourteen (resp. 11) traditional and 5 (resp. 3) modern varieties were identified in the Pre-Rif region (resp. in the Atlas Mountains). The majority of farmers grew a single variety, and most traditional varieties were distributed in restricted geographical areas. At the farm level, more than half of the varieties were renewed in the last decade in the Pre-Rif, a more rapid renewal than in the Atlas Mountain. Modern varieties were more prevalent in the Pre-Rif region and were integrated in the traditional practices of seed production, selection and exchange. They were clearly distinguished by the farmers from the landraces, the last ones being appreciated for their quality traits.
Conclusions
The surveyed traditional agrosystems constitute open, dynamic and heterogeneous entities. We suggest that competing factors could favour or limit the cultivation of improved varieties and the erosion of original durum wheat diversity. This first description opens the way to focused further investigations, including complementing variety names with cultural, genetic and phenotypic information and unravelling the multidimensional factors and consequences of modern variety adoption.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-58
PMCID: PMC4132198  PMID: 25027694
Traditional agriculture; Triticum turgidum; Varietal diversity; In situ conservation; Interviews; Farmers’ knowledge
23.  Anti-mosquito plants as an alternative or incremental method for malaria vector control among rural communities of Bagamoyo District, Tanzania 
Background
Plants represent one of the most accessible resources available for mosquito control by communities in Tanzania. However, no documented statistics exist for their contribution in the management of mosquitoes and other insects except through verbal and some publications. This study aimed at assessing communities’ knowledge, attitudes and practices of using plants as an alternative method for mosquito control among selected communities in a malaria-prone area in Tanzania.
Methods
Questionnaires were administered to 202 respondents from four villages of Bagamoyo District, Pwani Region, in Tanzania followed by participatory rural appraisal with village health workers. Secondary data collection for plants mentioned by the communities was undertaken using different search engines such as googlescholar, PubMED and NAPRALERT.
Results
Results showed about 40.3% of respondents used plants to manage insects, including mosquitoes. A broad profile of plants are used, including “mwarobaini” (Azadirachta indica) (22.5%), “mtopetope” (Annona spp) (20.8%), “mchungwa/mlimau” (Citrus spp) (8.3%), “mvumbashi/uvumbati” (Ocimum spp) (7.4%), “mkorosho” (Anacadium occidentale) (7.1%), “mwembe” (5.4%) (Mangifera indica), “mpera” (4.1%) (Psidium spp) and “maganda ya nazi” (4.1%) (Cocos nucifera). Majority of respondents collected these plants from the wild (54.2%), farms (28.9%) and/or home gardens (6%). The roles played by these plants in fighting mosquitoes is reflected by the majority that deploy them with or without bed-nets (p > 0.55) or insecticidal sprays (p >0.22). Most respondents were aware that mosquitoes transmit malaria (90.6%) while few respondents associated elephantiasis/hydrocele (46.5%) and yellow fever (24.3%) with mosquitoes. Most of the ethnobotanical uses mentioned by the communities were consistent with scientific information gathered from the literature, except for Psidium guajava, which is reported for the first time in insect control.
Conclusion
This survey has indicated some knowledge gap among community members in managing mosquito vectors using plant. The communities need a basic health education and sensitization for effective exploitation of this valuable tool for reducing mosquitoes and associated disease burdens. On the other hand, the government of Tanzania should strengthen advocacy of botanical pesticides development, registration and regulation for public health benefits because they are source of pest control tools people rely on them.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-56
PMCID: PMC4131773  PMID: 25015092
Mosquitoes; Vector control; Ethno-knowledge; Medicinal plants; Azadirachta indica; Annona species
24.  Ethnotaxonomy of birds by the inhabitants of Pedra Branca Village, Santa Teresinha municipality, Bahia state, Brazil 
Background
Studies on popular names of birds help to understand the relationship between human beings and birds and it also contributes to the field of ornithology.
Methods
This study aims to register the ethnotaxonomy of birds in the village of Pedra Branca, Santa Teresinha municipality, Bahia State, Brazil, by cataloguing and identifying their popular names, besides understanding the ethnoclassification system of local bird species. The ethno-ornithological data were obtained by means of semi-structured open interviews, and projective tests.
Results
We interviewed 48 residents and, in order to identify species, we chose five informants with a more detailed knowledge on local avifauna. We registered 139 common names, distributed into 108 ethnospecies and 33 synonyms, referring to 117 species. Nomenclatural criteria more frequently used were vocalization and coloring patterns. Following Berlin’s principles of ethnobiological classification, three hierarchical levels were registered: life form, generic and specific, with three types of correspondence between Linnaean and folk classification systems. The bird life form (“pássaro” in Portuguese) was associated only to wild species.
Conclusions
The ethno-ornithological research in Pedra Branca Village has contributed with new information on popular nomenclature of birds and their etymology, showing that folk knowledge on birds is conveyed within the community.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-55
PMCID: PMC4108227  PMID: 25012812
Human beings; Bird; Ethno-ornithology; Local names; Hierarchical levels; Vocalization; Ethnoetymology
25.  Losing fat, gaining treatments: the use of biomedicine as a cure for folk illnesses in the Andes 
Background
This article explores how people in the Andes incorporate beliefs from both biomedical and ethnomedical systems in treating folk illnesses that often involve spiritual beings. The article focuses on the kharisiri—one who is believed to steal fat and blood from unsuspecting humans to make exchanges with the devil. The kharisiri in turn is rewarded with good fortune. Victims of kharisiris, however, fall ill and may die if untreated. Historically, kharisiri victims relied on ethnomedicine for treatment, but it appears biomedical pills are now perceived by some as an effective treatment. By drawing on participants’ attitudes towards biomedicine, and how people in the Andes conceptualize health, this article theorizes as to why biomedical pills are sought to treat kharisiri attacks but not for other folk illnesses.
Methods
Fieldwork was conducted in Arequipa and Yunguyo among market vendors, who make up a significant portion of Peru’s working population. This type of work increases the risk of different illnesses due to work conditions like exposure to extreme temperatures, long-distance travel, and social dynamics. Biomedical and ethnomedical products are often sold in and around marketplaces, making vendors a compelling group for exploring issues relating to treatment systems. Qualitative data was collected in 2011 with a follow-up visit in 2013. Participant observation, informal conversations, and unstructured interviews with 29 participants informed the study.
Results
Participants unanimously reported that biomedical pills are not capable of treating folk illnesses such as susto and mal de ojo. Several participants reported that pharmaceutical pills can cure kharisiri victims.
Conclusions
In comparison to other folk illnesses that involve spiritual beings, those who fall ill from a kharisiri attack lose physical elements (fat and blood) rather than their soul (ánimo) or becoming ill due to a misbalance in reciprocal relations—either with humans or non-human beings such as Pachamama. Because the kharisiri is typically a stranger to the victim, the Andean concept of reciprocity appears to be irrelevant in terms of preventing and treating attacks. The association between kharisiris, biomedicine, and exploitation may also play a role in the use of biomedical pills.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-52
PMCID: PMC4096414  PMID: 24993891
Peru; Andes; Biomedicine; Pharmaceuticals; Ethnomedicine; Folk illnesses; Kharisiri; Market vendors

Results 1-25 (455)