23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Are Ecologically Important Tree Species the Most Useful? A Case Study from Indigenous People in the Bolivian Amazon. Researchers have argued that indigenous peoples prefer to use the most apparent plant species, particularly for medicinal uses. However, the association between the ecological importance of a species and its usefulness remains unclear. In this paper we quantify such association for six use categories (firewood, construction, materials, food, medicines, and other uses). We collected data on the uses of 58 tree species, as reported by 93 informants in 22 villages in the Tsimane' territory (Bolivian Amazon). We calculated the ecological importance of the same species by deriving their importance value index (IVI) in 48 0.1-ha old-growth forest plots. Matching both data sets, we found a positive relation between the IVI of a species and its overall use value (UV) as well as with its UV for construction and materials. We found a negative relation between IVI and UV for species that were reportedly used for medicine and food uses, and no clear pattern for the other categories. We hypothesize that species used for construction or crafting purposes because of their physical properties are more easily substitutable than species used for medicinal or edible purposes because of their chemical properties. © 2014 The New York Botanical Garden.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
JournalEconomic Botany
Volume68
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

Keywords

  • Ethnobotany
  • Tsimane' indigenous people
  • importance value index (IVI)
  • species saliency
  • species usefulness
  • tropical forest
  • use value (UV)

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