Article

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: 0.77). 04/2007; 61(4):376-384. DOI: 10.1663/0013-0001(2007)61[376:WWITFA]2.0.CO;2

ABSTRACT 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.

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    • "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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    • "Considering the size of palm samples, photographs were the best visual stimuli for this study. The systematic use of photographs of plants in ethnobotanical interviews is still poorly represented in the literature [30, 33–35], but this approach has been shown to be more effective than the use of voucher specimens [36]. Sixteen A4-sized photographs of each palm species present in the region were prepared (Figure 2). "
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    • "The informants were selected to cover the age range 15–84 years, and we only interviewed villagers who were born and had always lived in the community (Table 1). Photographs of plants and freshly collected material were shown to the informants following established methodologies (Martin, 1995; Thomas et al., 2007) and use categories (Cook, 1995). To protect the intellectual property rights of the informants communal meetings were held with all inhabitants, prior to the start of interviews concerning the medicinal use of plants, Apart from the general population of the villages, these meeting included the village leaders. "
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