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Knowledge and Use Value of Plant Species in a Rarámuri Community: A Gender Perspective for Conservation

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Abstract

We used a quantitative ethnobotanical approach to analyze factors influencing the use value of plant species among men and women of the Rarámuri people in Cuiteco, Chihuahua, Mexico. We constructed a use value index (UV) combining the use frequency (U) and the quality perception (Q) of useful plant species by local people. We identified all plant species used by the Rarámuri and classified them into 14 general use categories. We interviewed 34 households in the village to compare men and women’s knowledge on the five main general use categories (and on their respective subcategories and specific uses), to document how they practice gathering activities and to calculate scores of plants UV. A total of 226 useful plant species were identified, but only 12% of them had high UV scores for the 42 specific uses defined. When the overall knowledge of plant species was examined, no significant differences were detected between men and women, but significant differences were identified in general use categories such as medicinal plants, plants for construction and domestic goods, but not in plants used as food and firewood. We identified a division of labor in gathering activities associated with gender, with women mainly gathering medicinal and edible plants and being involved in preparing medicines and food, whereas men were primarily gathering and using plants for manufacturing domestic goods, firewood, and building materials. Plant species UV associated to gender were significantly different between men and women at the level of specific uses in the general category of domestic goods and building. Frequency of use is highly associated with plant species quality perception.

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Acknowledgement

The authors thank the Proyecto Sectorial CONACYT-SEMARNAT (C01-0544) for financial support, as well as CONACYT for support with a grant for PhD studies to first author. Heberto Ferreira and Alberto Valencia gave computer assistance and Edgar Pérez Negrón and Berenice Farfán had a valuable participation in fieldwork. The authors also thank Dr. Alicia Castillo for her critical review of the manuscript and the Laboratory of Ethnoecology at ICTA-UAB for their comments. We specially thank the Consultoría Técnica Comunitaria A. C. (CONTEC), and all the people from Cuiteco, men and women, for allowing us to carry out this work.

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Correspondence to Alejandro Casas.

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Table 5 Use Value of Plant Species at Cuiteco, Chiuahua Mexico

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Camou-Guerrero, A., Reyes-García, V., Martínez-Ramos, M. et al. Knowledge and Use Value of Plant Species in a Rarámuri Community: A Gender Perspective for Conservation. Hum Ecol 36, 259–272 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10745-007-9152-3

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