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Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 16, Issue 6, pp 1785–1801 | Cite as

Correspondence between Scientific and Traditional Ecological Knowledge: Rain Forest Classification by the Non-Indigenous Ribereños in Peruvian Amazonia

  • K. J. HalmeEmail author
  • R. E. Bodmer
Original Paper

Abstract

Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) is a potential source of ecological information. Typically TEK has been documented at the species level, but habitat data would be equally valuable for conservation applications. We compared the TEK forest type classification of ribereños, the non-indigenous rural peasantry of Peruvian Amazonia, to a floristic classification produced using systematically collected botanical data. Indicator species analysis of pteridophytes in 300 plots detected two forest types on non-flooded tierra firme, each associated with distinct soil texture and fertility, and one forest type in areas subject to flooding. Nine TEK forest types were represented in the same set of plots. Each TEK forest type was consistently (>82%) associated with one of the three floristic classes and there were also clear parallels in the ecological characterizations of the forest types. Ribereños demonstrated clear preferences for certain forest types when selecting sites for slash-and-burn agriculture and hunting. Our results indicate that the non-tribal inhabitants of Amazonia possess valuable TEK that could be used in biodiversity inventories and wildlife management and conservation for characterizing primary rain forest habitats in Amazonia.

Keywords

Amazonia Beta-diversity Traditional ecological knowledge Tropical rain forest Vegetation classification Wildlife habitat 

Abbreviation

TEK

Traditional ecological knowledge

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Notes

Acknowledgements

We are indebted to Gilberto Asipali; Jorge Pacaya and the inhabitants of Nueva Esperanza for sharing their knowledge with us. Hanna Tuomisto and Kalle Ruokolainen made valuable comments to the manuscript. K.H. is grateful to Helsingin Sanomain 100-vuotissäätiö, Ella and Georg Ehrnrooth’s Foundation and the Academy of Finland (through grants to H. Tuomisto and K. Ruokolainen) for financial support. Field work was conducted as part of R.B.’s wildlife conservation program funded by the Wildlife Conservation Society.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland
  2. 2.Department of Anthropology, Durrell Institute of Conservation and EcologyUniversity of KentCanterbury, KentUK

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