Quilombola perceptions about plant-mediated ecological interactions

Kênia Maria de Oliveira Valadares, Fernanda Ribeiro-da-Silva, Natalia Hanazaki

Abstract


Background: Networks are useful tools to show ecological interactions because they allow to virtually represent natural structures. When applied to local knowledge this approach can reveal unnoticed perspectives, going beyond the species known and used, and showing the interdependence among them. We aim to investigate the ecological interactions between plants-and-animals and plants-and-plants perceived by people from three Quilombola groups in Southern Brazil. We also discuss how the proximity to urban areas can influence these perceptions.

Methods: Through 141 ethnobotany interviews in three communities, we asked about the plants known and how each plant interacts with other plants and with animals.

Results: The networks formed were similar in the three communities and had characteristics of free-scale networks. The main interactions perceived were between cultivated plants, and between plants and native animals, and were especially related to competition, facilitation, inquilinism, and herbivory. Manihot esculenta, Citrus sinensis, Psidium guajava, and Zea mays were species with the highest centrality. Ecological interactions among different species, especially the native ones, were more prone to occur in less urbanized areas, due to proximity to forested sites.

Conclusions: The refined understanding of ecological interactions amidst traditional people reinforces the importance to preserve and maintain their knowledge beyond the simple species’ records, to assist traditional people to guide their claims to establish their rights.

Keywords: Ecological interaction networks, local ecological knowledge, Quilombola communities, traditional people, ethnoecology.


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Ethnobotany Research and Applications (ISSN 1547-3465) is published online by the Department of Ethnobotany, Institute of Botany, Ilia State University.
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