Economic Botany

, 50:280 | Cite as

Use of ecological methods in ethnobotany: Diversity indices

  • Alpina Begossi


The application of ecological concepts to ethnobotanical studies, in particular of diversity, is analyzed. Diversity indices are important tools that may help in understanding human-environment interactions. Those indices allow comparisons on the use of plants by different populations in different environments. A review on recent major ethnobotanical journals was carried out, and 10 studies (7 from Latin America, 2 from Asia and 1 from Europe) were selected based on available data to calculate diversity indices. The Shannon-Wiener indices and rarefaction curves were obtained. High diversity on plant uses were found for studies carried out at Peru, Mexico, Brazil and Thailand. A low diversity was found for Tonga, and island biogeography theory is used to discuss these results. Sampling effort is evaluated through rarefaction curves. The estimation of the diversity of resources used by native populations may be useful when planning conservation areas and their management.

Key Words

biodiversity diversity indices ethnobotany island biogeography 

O Uso de Métodos Ecológicos em Etnobotânica:Índices de Diversidade


A aplicação de conceitos de ecologia em estudos etnobotânicos, em particular diversidade, é analisada. Os índices de diversidade são ferramentas importantes que nos ajudam a entender as interações humanas com o ambiente. Esses indices permitem comparar o uso de plantas por populações diferentes em ambientes diferentes. Foi realizada uma revisão nos principals periódicos recentes de etnobotânica e foram selecionados 10 estudos (7 da America Latina, 2 da Ásia e l da Europa), com base na disponibilidade de dados, para o cálculo dos indices de diversidade. Indices de Shannon-Wiener e curvas de rarefação foram obtidas. Foi encontrada uma alta diversidade de uso de plantas para Peru, México, Brazil e Tailândia. Uma baixa diversidade foi encontrada em Tonga, e a biogeografia de ilhas é usada para discutir os resultados. O esforço de amostragem é avaliado com base nos curvas de rarefação. A estimativa da diversidade dos recursos usados por populações nativas pode ser util no planejamento de áreas de conservação e em seu manejo.

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alpina Begossi
    • 1
  1. 1.Núcleo de Estudos e Pesquisas AmbientaisUniversidade Estadual de CampinasCampinas, SPBrazil

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