Understanding local knowledge about wild edible plants (WEP) is essential for assessing plant services, reducing the risks of knowledge extinction, recognizing the rights of local communities, and improving biodiversity conservation efforts. However, the knowledge of specific groups such as women or children tends to be under-represented in local ecological knowledge (LEK) research. In this study, we explore how knowledge of WEP is distributed across gender and life stages (adults/children) among Betsileo people in the southern highlands of Madagascar. Using data from free listings with 42 adults and 40 children, gender-balanced, we show that knowledge on WEP differs widely across gender and life stage. In addition, we find that children have extended knowledge of WEP while reporting different species than adults. Women’s knowledge specializes in herbaceous species (versus other plant life forms), while men’s knowledge specializes in endemic species (versus native or introduced). Finally, we find that introduced species are more frequently cited by children, while adults cite more endemic species. We discuss the LEK differentiation mechanisms and the implications of acquiring life stage’s knowledge in the highland landscapes of Madagascar. Given our findings, we highlight the importance of considering groups with underrepresented knowledge repositories, such as children and women, into future research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0264147
Pages (from-to)e0264147
Number of pages20
JournalPloS one
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2022


  • Endemic species
  • Introduced species
  • Madagascar
  • adult
  • adult child
  • article
  • child
  • clinical article
  • edible plant
  • female
  • gender
  • human
  • human experiment
  • landscape
  • male
  • nonhuman


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