Evolutionary Ethnobiology

Abstract

Ethnobiology is a discipline that deals with understanding the relationship between human beings and biota. The strong interdisciplinary component of ethnobiology allows it to interact with different fields of knowledge. The evolutionary approach in ethnobiology is not completely absent; however, it lacks systematisation, which has been recently proposed. From this proposal, the evolutionary ethnobiology emerged. This approach studies the relations between human groups and biota from theoretical scenarios of ecology and evolution. This article presents the evolutionary ethnobiology, its key concepts, the theoretical scenarios with which it dialogues and the main findings of the recent investigations in this approach.

Key Concepts

  • Evolutionary ethnobiology seeks the understanding of people–biota interactions from ecological and evolutionary scenarios.
  • The field has an interdisciplinary nature in order to dialogue with scenarios from different disciplines, such as cultural evolution, evolutionary psychology and niche construction theory.
  • Evolutionary ethnobiology deals with theoretical scenarios related to biological evolution and cultural evolution, usually seeking the association of both.
  • This scientific field studies not only the structure and dynamics of social–ecological systems but also the forms and biases of cultural learning related to these systems.
  • The adaptive strategies present in human populations, whether they are genetically fixed or products of cultural evolution, are usually based on obtaining security in the use of natural resources.

Keywords: human ecology; ethnoecology; biological evolution; cultural evolution; evolutionary psychology

References

Abreu DBO , Santoro FR , Albuquerque UP , et al. (2015) Medicinal plant knowledge in a context of cultural pluralism: a case study in Northeastern Brazil. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 175: 124–130.

Albuquerque UP and Alves AGC (2016) What is ethnobiology? In: Albuquerque UP and Alves RRN (eds) Introduction to Ethnobiology, pp. 3–7. New York: Springer.

Albuquerque UP and Ferreira Júnior WS (2017) What do we study in evolutionary ethnobiology? Defining the theoretical basis for a research program. Evolutionary Biology 44: 206–215.

Albuquerque UP and Medeiros PM (2013) What is evolutionary ethnobiology? Ethnobiology and Conservation 2: 6.

Albuquerque UP , Medeiros PM and Casas A (2015a) Evolutionary Ethnobiology. New York: Springer.

Albuquerque UP , Ferreira Júnior WS , Santoro FR , et al. (2015b) Niche construction theory and ethnobiology. In: Albuquerque UP , Medeiros PM and Casas A (eds) Evolutionary Ethnobiology, pp. 73–87. New York: Springer.

Albuquerque UP (2006) Re‐examining hypotheses concerning the use and knowledge of medicinal plants: a study in the Caatinga vegetation of NE Brazil. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2: 30.

Barrett B (1995) Herbal knowledge on Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast: consensus within diversity. Journal of Community Health 20: 403–421.

Berkes F , Colding J and Folke C (2000) Rediscovery of Traditional Ecological Knowledge as adaptive management. Ecological Applications 10: 1251–1262.

Bradie M (2017) Evolution of Culture. In: eLS. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons Ltd. DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0027505. http://www.els.net.

Casagrande DG (2000) Human taste and cognition in Tzeltal Maya medicinal plant use. Journal of Ecological Anthropology 4: 57–69.

Casas A , Parra F , Rangel S , et al. (2015) Evolutionary ecology and ethnobiology. In: Albuquerque UP , Medeiros PM and Casas A (eds) Evolutionary Ethnobiology, pp. 37–57. New York: Springer.

Castro L , Toro MA (2010) Cultural Transmission and Evolution. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net. 10.1002/9780470015902.a0022858]

Cuni‐Sanchez A , Omeny P , Pfeifer M , et al. (2018) Climate change and pastoralists: perceptions and adaptation in montane Kenya. Climate and Development. DOI: 10.1080/17565529.2018.1454880.

Díaz‐Reviriego I , Fernández‐Llamazares A , Salpeteur M , et al. (2016) Gendered medicinal plant knowledge contributions to adaptive capacity and health sovereignty in Amazonia. Ambio 45: S263–S275.

Ferreira Júnior WS and Albuquerque UP (2015) “Consensus within diversity”: an evolutionary perspective on local medical systems. Biological Theory. DOI: 10.1007/s13752-015-0215-1.

Ferreira Júnior WS , Nascimento ALB , Ramos MA , et al. (2015) Resilience and adaptation of social‐ecological systems. In: Albuquerque UP , Medeiros PM and Casas A (eds) Evolutionary Ethnobiology, pp. 105–119. New York: Springer.

Gama ADS , Paula M , Silva RRV , et al. (2018) Exotic species as models to understand biocultural adaptation: challenges to mainstream views of human‐nature relations. PLoS One 13: e0196091.

Hart G , Gaoue OG , de la Torre L , et al. (2017) Availability, diversification and versatility explain human selection of introduced plants in Ecuadorian traditional medicine. PLoS One 12 (9): e0184369. 10.1371/journal.pone.0184369.

Henrich J and Broesch J (2011) On the nature of cultural transmission networks: evidence from Fijian villages for adaptive learning biases. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 366: 1139–1148.

Hopkins AL and Stepp JR (2012) Distribution of herbal remedy knowledge in Tabi, Yucatan, Mexico. Economic Botany 66: 249–254.

Kleinman A (1978) Concepts and a model for the comparison of medical systems as cultural systems. Social Science & Medicine 12: 85–93.

Kuruppu N and Liverman D (2011) Mental preparation for climate adaptation: the role of cognition and culture in enhancing adaptive capacity of water management in Kiribati. Global Environmental Change 21: 657–669.

Ladio A , Lozada M and Weigandt M (2007) Comparison of traditional wild plant knowledge between aboriginal communities inhabiting arid and forest environments in Patagonia, Argentina. Journal of Arid Environments 69: 695–715.

Leonti M , Staub PO , Cabras S , et al. (2015) From cumulative cultural transmission to evidence‐based medicine: evolution of medicinal plant knowledge in Southern Italy. Frontiers in Pharmacology 6: 207.

Levis C , Costa FRC , Bongers F , et al. (2017) Persistent effects of pre‐Columbian plant domestication on Amazonian forest composition. Science 355: 925–931.

Linstädter A , Kemmerling B , Baumann G , et al. (2013) The importance of being reliable – Local ecological knowledge and management of forage plants in a dryland pastoral system (Morocco). Journal of Arid Environments 95: 30–40.

Medeiros PM , Soldati GT and Alencar NL (2012) The use of medicinal plants by migrant people: adaptation, maintenance, and replacement. Evidence‐Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012: 807452.

Medeiros PM (2013) Why is change feared? Exotic species in local pharmacopoeias. Ethnobiology and Conservation 2: 3.

Medeiros PM , Ferreira Júnior WS , Ramos MA , et al. (2017) Why do people use exotic plants in their local medical systems? A systematic review based on Brazilian local communities. PLoS One 12: e0185358.

Menendez‐Baceta G , Aceituno‐Mata L , Reyes‐García V , et al. (2015) The importance of cultural factors in the distribution of medicinal plant knowledge: a case study in four Basque regions. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 161: 116–127.

Molares S and Ladio A (2009) Chemosensory perception and medicinal plants for digestive ailments in a Mapuche community in NW Patagonia, Argentina. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 123: 397–406.

Nairne JS , Thompson SR and Pandeirada JNS (2007) Adaptive memory: survival processing enhances retention. Journal of Experimental Psychology 33: 263–273.

Nascimento ALB , Lozano A , Melo JG , et al. (2016) Functional aspects of the use of plants and animals in local medical systems and their implications for resilience. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 194: 348–357.

O'Brien MJ and Laland KN (2012) Genes, culture, and agriculture: an example of human niche construction. Current Anthropology 53: 434–470.

Odling‐Smee J , Erwin DH , Palkovacs EP , et al. (2013) Niche construction theory: a practical guide for ecologists. The Quarterly Review of Biology 88: 3–28.

Pfeiffer JM , Voeks RA (2008) Biological invasions and biocultural diversity: linking ecological and cultural systems. Environmental Conservation 35:281–293.

Reyes‐García V , Guèze M , Díaz‐Reviriego I , et al. (2016) The adaptive nature of culture. A cross‐cultural analysis of the returns of local environmental knowledge in three indigenous societies. Current Anthropology 57: 761–784.

Rossi‐Santos B , Oliveira Jacintho J , Milliken W , et al. (2018) The role of exotic species in traditional pharmacopeias of the Cerrado: a case study in southeast Brazil. Economic Botany 72: 38. 10.1007/s12231-018-9406-6.

Santana BF , Voeks RA and Funch LS (2016) Ethnomedicinal survey of a Maroon community in Brazil's Atlantic Tropical Forest. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 181: 37–39.

Santoro FR , Ferreira Júnior WS , Araújo TAS , et al. (2015) Does plant species richness guarantee the resilience of local medical systems? A perspective from utilitarian redundancy. PLoS One 10.

Santoro FR , Santos GC , Ferreira Júnior WS , et al. (2016) Testing an ethnobiological evolutionary hypothesis on plant‐based remedies to treat malaria in Africa. Evolutionary Biology 44: 216–226.

Santoro FR , Nascimento ALB , Soldati GT , et al. (2018) Evolutionary ethnobiology and cultural evolution: opportunities for research and dialog. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 14: 1.

Saslis‐Lagoudakis CH , Savolainen V , Williamson EM , et al. (2012) Phylogenies reveal predictive power of traditional medicine in bioprospecting. PNAS 109: 15835–15840.

Steward JR and Stringer CB (2012) Human evolution out of Africa: the role of refugia and climate change. Science 335: 1317.

Sullivan AP , Bird DW and Perry GH (2017) Human behavior as a long‐term ecological driver of non‐human evolution. Nature Ecology & Evolution 1: 65.

Trauth MH , Maslin MA , Deino AL , et al. (2010) Human evolution in a variable environment: the amplifier lakes of Eastern Africa. Quaternary Science Reviews 29: 2981–2988.

Further Reading

Albuquerque UP , Medeiros PM and Casas A (2015c) Evolutionary Ethnobiology. New York: Springer.

Johns T (1990) With bitter herbs they shall eat it: chemical ecology and the origins of human diet and medicine. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

Saslis‐Lagoudakis CH , Hawkins JA , Greenhill SJ , et al. (2014) The evolution of traditional knowledge: environment shapes medicinal plant use in Nepal. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 281: 20132768.

Contact Editor close
Submit a note to the editor about this article by filling in the form below.

* Required Field

How to Cite close
Ferreira Júnior, Washington Soares, de Medeiros, Patricia Muniz, and Albuquerque, Ulysses Paulino(Jan 2019) Evolutionary Ethnobiology. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0028232]