Conservation efforts based on local ecological knowledge: The role of social variables in identifying environmental indicators

André Sobral, María de los Ángeles LA TORRE-CUADROS, Rômulo Romeu Nóbrega Alves, Ulysses Paulino Albuquerque

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The incorporation of local ecological knowledge in monitoring processes has been one of the great challenges of conservation initiatives worldwide. Therefore, it is essential to use indicators as local evaluation tools of the conditions of a species in order to support conservation actions. Local populations observe the environment, climate change and the influence of these factors on the species they use. However, their observations and perceptions may vary depending on different social factors. We used as model two species of economic importance involved in sociobiodiversity product chains to evaluate the role of social variables in the identification of conservation indicators for this plants. The species studied were: Caryocar coriaceum Wittm. (locally known as pequi), and Himatanthus drasticus (Mart.) Plumel (locally known as janaguba). We also registered which indicators are perceived as the most important and what they are measuring. Our results show that the knowledge among collectors is homogeneous and that, generally, the social factors do not affect the knowledge on local indicators. Age and extraction time were factors that influenced the knowledge on climate indicators and population structure only for C. coriaceum. In the communities studied, collectors not only monitor the biological characteristics of the species, but also the environmental and climatic phenomena that are threatening the sustainability of the species. These results can help to improve our ability to manage information about natural resources, incorporating local ecological knowledge in the scientific process of evaluation and monitoring of biodiversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-181
Number of pages11
JournalEcological Indicators
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • Biodiversity monitoring
  • Environmental awareness
  • Ethnobiology
  • Ethnobotany
  • Local ecological knowledge


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