What Works in the Field? A Comparison of Different Interviewing Methods in Ethnobotany with Special Reference to the Use of Photographs

Economic Botany (Impact Factor: 1.2). 04/2007; 61(4):376-384. DOI: 10.1663/0013-0001(2007)61[376:WWITFA]2.0.CO;2


Ethnobotanists use a variety of interview techniques to collect ethnobotanical data. Drawing upon the results from a quantitative
ethnobotanical study in five Yuracaré and Trinitario communities in the Bolivian Amazon, the pros and cons of the following
methods are evaluated: (1) interviews in situ during transects, walk-in-the-woods, and homegarden sampling; and (2) interviews ex situ with fresh plant material, voucher specimens, or plant photographs as reference tools. Although the systematic use of plant
photographs for ethnobotanical interviews is poorly documented in literature, the results show that indigenoùs participants
in our study recognize significantly more plant species from photographs than from voucher specimens. It is argued that, especially
in remote and isolated study sites, photographs might be advantageous over voucher specimens.


Available from: Evert Thomas
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    • "Informants' responses to additional and informal questions including ethnobotanical, socioeconomic data and observed data were recorded in a fi eld notebook immediately. In order to provide evidence for the identifi cation of scientifi c name, all plant species mentioned by respondents were documented according to guidelines of (Thomas et al., 2007). Photos were taken to document species and all agricultural products sold on market to which the research is concerned. "
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    ABSTRACT: Since the beginning of 1990s, after the dissolution of Soviet Union, many rural regions across Central Europe and Central Asia have returned to traditional market chains of food distribution. This is evident particularly in countries such as Kyrgyzstan where local production of crops were focused on production of cash-crops for export during the communism, e.g. cotton, tomatoes or melons. Nowadays, farming systems have changed into more subsistence ones, while the surpluses of edible plants are traded locally. Our survey was carried out during July 2012 in Kulundu village that is situated at the edge of Fergana Valley, about one hour by car from Isfana town. The role of rural markets was analysed as well as local food crop species together with their categories of use. We documented twenty local species sold on rural markets, which served particularly as a food supplements or garnitures for local cuisine. Furthermore, positive impact of food-crops commercialization on living standard of the vendors was also observed. Authors argued that local markets play an important role in poverty alleviation of vendors as well as food security of local population as food supplies have been fickle after Soviet Union dissolution. They played significant social role through enable people to meet regularly and purchase food supplements for daily life and generate additional cash for vendors. It is necessary to mention that traditional rural markets in target area we analysed were of minor importance at province level. However, they were prosperous and their cultural as well as socioeconomic role is undisputed.
    Bulgarian Journal of Agricultural Science 01/2015; 21:243-250. · 0.14 Impact Factor
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    • "These species were selected for references of records and abundant growth and for being common in these forest soils [10, 36]. For the stimuli, the technique proposed by Thomas [40] was taken into account. Besides these photographic stimuli, in so far as possible, fresh mushrooms were used for correlation with the taxonomic fungi mentioned in the interviews. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: The Sierra Madre Occidental of Chihuahua in Northern Mexico is inhabited by indigenous Raramuris, mestizos, and other ethnic groups. The territory consists of canyons and ravines with pine, oak and pine-oak forests in the higher plateaus. A great diversity of potentially edible mushrooms is found in forests of the Municipalities of Bocoyna and Urique. Their residents are the only consumers of wild mushrooms in the Northern Mexico; they have a long tradition of collecting and eating these during the "rainy season." However, despite the wide diversity of edible mushrooms that grow in these areas, residents have a selective preference. This paper aims to record evidence of the knowledge and use of wild potentially edible mushroom species by inhabitants of towns in the Sierra Tarahumara of Chihuahua, Mexico. Method: Using a semi-structured technique, we surveyed 197 habitants from seven locations in Urique, Bocoyna, and the Cusarare area from 2010 to 2012. Known fungi, local nomenclature, species consumed, preparation methods, appreciation of taste, forms of preservation, criteria for differentiating toxic and edible fungi, other uses, economic aspects, and traditional teaching were recorded. To identify the recognized species, photographic stimuli of 22 local edible species and two toxic species were used. Results: The respondents reported preference for five species: Amanita rubescens, Agaricus campestris, Ustilago maydis, Hypomyces lactifluorum, and the Amanita caesarea complex. No apparent differences were found between ethnic groups in terms of preference, although mestizos used other species in Bocoyna (Boletus edulis and B. pinophilus). Some different uses of fungi are recognized by respondents, i.e. home decorations, medicine, as food in breeding rams, etc. Conclusion: The studied population shows a great appreciation towards five species, mainly the A. caesarea complex, and an apparent lack of knowledge of nearly 20 species which are used as food in other areas of Mexico. There are no apparent differences among Sierra inhabitants in terms of gender, occupation, or language regarding the recognition and consumption of species. The rejection of certain species is due mainly to fear of poisoning and the traditional selective teaching of families in the mountain communities of the Sierra Tarahumara.
    Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 09/2014; 10(1):67. DOI:10.1186/1746-4269-10-67 · 2.00 Impact Factor
    • "otograph . Photographs , rather than a walking route with actual sightings of trees and plants ( e . g . Krog et al . 2005 ) , were used primarily to save time as local people are often busy and unable to leave their homes without prior arrangement ; visiting people at their homes or in schools was thus logistically less complicated . According to Thomas et al . ( 2007 ) this method of plant identification is effective and accurate and often simpler and clearer than using live or pressed material . Plant specimens were also collected and taken to the Selmar Schonland Herbarium in Grahamstown for identification ."
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    ABSTRACT: The Albany Thicket Biome is an important biodiversity hotspot and also plays a key role in supporting local livelihoods. Local people's significant dependence on thicket ecosystems may contribute to their degradation, prompting the need for restoration. This paper reports on a study to determine how local knowledge can contribute to thicket restoration approaches undertaken in Pikoli village. Data relating to the use and importance of 37 plant species found within village communal lands were collected using a modified informant consensus method; a quantitative ethnobotanical approach. A total of 50 community members across different gender and age user groups were interviewed. There was a significant difference between user groups in terms of what were regarded as priority plant species. Species found to be particularly important included Aloe ferox, Ptaeroxylon obliquum and Acacia karroo. A. ferox was rated as the most important species overall. Eight use categories for species were identified, the most prominent being ‘livestock feed’, ‘medicine’ and ‘cultural’. Species that were perceived as most important were almost unanimously also those of significance to livestock. The implications of the findings for thicket restoration in degraded communal areas with high use pressures are discussed.
    Forests Trees and Livelihoods 09/2014; 24(1). DOI:10.1080/14728028.2014.943305
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