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Exploring Partial Overlaps Between Knowledge Systems in a Brazilian Fishing Community

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Based on a mixed-methods study involving triad tasks and ethnobiological models, we analyze local categories and knowledge of key ethnospecies of fish exploring partial overlaps between artisanal fishers’ and academic knowledge in a fishing community in northeast Brazil. We argue that fishers’ and academic knowledge overlaps may provide common ground for transdisciplinary collaboration, while their partiality requires reflection on epistemological and ontological differences. Here, we show how knowledge of artisanal fishers can complement academic knowledge and bring about tensions that need to be addressed through intercultural dialogue. By integrating a general philosophical framework of partial overlaps with a mixed-methods study on fishers’ knowledge, we show how ethnobiology can contribute to reflective and empirically-grounded transdisciplinary practices.

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Data Availability

The datasets generated and analyzed during the current study are not publicly available because they contain information that could compromise research participant privacy/consent. However, they are available from the corresponding author upon request, according to an ethical agreement with third parties that guarantee the protection of the privacy and confidentially of the participants.


  1. Most of the information provided on the community results from our own interview data and participant observation in the larger project in which the present study is included.


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We wish to thank all of the community of Siribinha for sharing their knowledge and experience with us and welcoming us with open arms. This research would not have been even started without their engagement. We would also like to thank Deborah Apgaua and David Tng for analyses of the triad task data, José Amorim Reis Filho for sharing his photos and insights on fisheries resources, and also for the fish identification, and Stephen Borgatti for helping with Anthropac.


This study was financed in part by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior–Brasil (CAPES)–Finance Code 001. VR was awarded a writing-up fellowship at the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research. CNEH, PB and VR are thankful to CNPq (grant number 465767/2014–1), CAPES (grant number 23038.000776/2017–54) and FAPESB (proc. no INC0006/2019) for their support of INCT INTREE. DL’s research has been supported by an ERC Starting Grant (851004 LOCAL KNOWLEDGE) and a NWO Vidi Grant (V1.Vidi.195.026 ETHNOONTOLOGIES). CNEH thanks CAPES and UFBA for Senior Visiting Researcher Grant (CAPES-PRINT) for a research stay in the Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra, Portugal (grant number 88887.465540/2019–00), and CNPq (proc. no 303011/2017–3) for a productivity in research grant.

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Correspondence to Vitor Renck.

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Across all stages, the participants provided informed verbal consent for the interviews, which was recorded at their beginning. The Committee has approved the project for Ethics in Research from the Nursing School of the Federal University of Bahia under n. 2.937.348 (Certificate of Presentation of Ethical Appreciation–CAAE–n. 97380718.3.0000.5531) followed Brazilian laws concerning ethical research procedures. It was also registered in the National System for the Management of Genetic Heritage and Associated Traditional Knowledge (SisGen) under n. A053F57. The ISE Code of Ethics principles were also followed in the study (International Society of Ethnobiology 2006).

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Renck, V., Ludwig, D., Bollettin, P. et al. Exploring Partial Overlaps Between Knowledge Systems in a Brazilian Fishing Community. Hum Ecol 50, 633–649 (2022).

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