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01.12.2017 | Review | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 1/2017

Integrating ethnobiological knowledge into biodiversity conservation in the Eastern Himalayas

Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine > Ausgabe 1/2017
Alexander R. O’Neill, Hemant K. Badola, Pitamber P. Dhyani, Santosh K. Rana
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​s13002-017-0148-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.


Biocultural knowledge provides valuable insight into ecological processes, and can guide conservation practitioners in local contexts. In many regions, however, such knowledge is underutilized due to its often-fragmented record in disparate sources. In this article, we review and apply ethnobiological knowledge to biodiversity conservation in the Eastern Himalayas. Using Sikkim, India as a case study, we: (i) traced the history and trends of ethnobiological documentation; (ii) identified priority species and habitat types; and, (iii) analyzed within and among community differences pertaining to species use and management. Our results revealed that Sikkim is a biocultural hotspot, where six ethnic communities and 1128 species engage in biocultural relationships. Since the mid-1800s, the number of ethnobiological publications from Sikkim has exponentially increased; however, our results also indicate that much of this knowledge is both unwritten and partitioned within an aging, gendered, and caste or ethnic group-specific stratum of society. Reviewed species were primarily wild or wild cultivated, native to subtropical and temperate forests, and pend IUCN Red List of Threatened Species assessment. Our results demonstrate the value of engaging local knowledge holders as active participants in conservation, and suggest the need for further ethnobiological research in the Eastern Himalayas. Our interdisciplinary approach, which included rank indices and geospatial modelling, can help integrate diverse datasets into evidence-based policy.
Additional file 1: Ethnobiological records reviewed by this manuscript. (PDF 147 kb)
Additional file 2: Reviewed species with ethnobiological records, including rank values, distributional data, ethnobiological uses. (XLSX 126 kb)
Additional file 3: Some threatened species in the Sikkim Eastern Himalaya. (XLSX 12 kb)
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