Record Details

Prado, Helbert Medeiros;Murrieta, Rui Sérgio Sereni;Adams, Cristina;Brondizio, Eduardo Sonnewend
Local and scientific knowledge for assessing the use of fallows and mature forest by large mammals in SE Brazil: identifying singularities in folkecology.
Journal of ethnobiology and ethnomedicine
Journal Article
BACKGROUND: Local ecological knowledge (LEK) has been discussed in terms of its similarities to and its potential to complement normative scientific knowledge. In this study, we compared the knowledge of a Brazilian quilombola population regarding the habitat use and life habits of large mammals with in situ recordings of the species. We also tested the hypothesis that quilombola LEK has a special focus on the anthropogenic portion of the landscape. METHODS: The habitats investigated were anthropogenic secondary forests and mature forests in the southeastern Atlantic coast of Brazil. We conducted the faunal survey using the camera-trap method. The sampling effort consisted of deploying 1,217 cameras/day in the mature forests and 1,189 cameras/day in the secondary forests. Statistical comparisons regarding the habitat use of the species were based on the randomization procedure. We interviewed 36 men who were more than 40 years old in the three communities studied. Informal, semi-structured and structured interviews were used. Two variables were considered in the LEK analyses: level of internal agreement and level of convergence with the scientific data. RESULTS: The camera trap sampling resulted in a total of 981 records. Animals such as opossums, tayras, armadillos and deer showed a non-selective pattern in the use of habitats. In contrast, the coati was more common in mature forests. We found that nearly 40% of the interviewees' responses converged with the scientific data on the use of habitats. However, the LEK on the species' life habits was highly convergent with the scientific data. The hypothesis that secondary forests would have a greater relevance for local knowledge was validated for four of the five analyzed species. CONCLUSIONS: We suggest two principal considerations of ecological and ethnoecological interest: (1) In the Atlantic Forest of the Ribeira Valley, the secondary forests resulting from shifting cultivation were as attractive to the species as the mature forests; (2) The LEK has a special focus on the more anthropogenic portion of the landscape studied. Finally, we argue that this environmental focus in LEK is part of what makes it different from scientific knowledge and unique in its approach toward local environments.