Interspecific relationships affecting endangered species recognized by O'odham and Comcáac cultures

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48 Scopus citations


Because certain indigenous peoples have lived in the same habitats for centuries, their languages often encode traditional ecological knowledge about interactions between plant and animal species that occur in those habitats. This local knowledge is sometimes complementary to more broadly derived knowledge accrued by academically trained field ecologists. In this analysis of recent ethnoecological studies from the Sonoran Desert; it is clear that O'odham and Comcáac foragers recognize, name, and interpret ecological interactions among locally occurring species, regardless of whether these species directly benefit them economically. It is demostrated how their knowledge of ecological interactions involving threatened species may offer Western-trained scientists and resource managers hypotheses to test, and to apply to endangered species recovery efforts. It is proposed that endangered species recovery teams include local para-ecologists from indigenous communities to aid in the integration of knowledge bases derived from various cultural perspectives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1288-1295
Number of pages8
JournalEcological Applications
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2000


  • Biodiversity
  • Comcáac (Seri)
  • Conservation
  • Deserts
  • Ecological associates
  • Endangered species
  • Ethnoecology
  • Indigenous peoples
  • Interaction diversion
  • O'odham
  • Traditional Ecological Knowledge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology


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