Whales, dolphins or fishes The ethnotaxonomy of cetaceans in São Sebastião, BrazilReport as inadecuate

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Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine

, 3:9

First Online: 20 February 2007Received: 28 November 2006Accepted: 20 February 2007


AbstractThe local knowledge of human populations about the natural world has been addressed through ethnobiological studies, especially concerning resources uses and their management. Several criteria, such as morphology, ecology, behavior, utility and salience, have been used by local communities to classify plants and animals. Studies regarding fishers- knowledge on cetaceans in the world, especially in Brazil, began in the last decade. Our objective is to investigate the folk classification by fishers concerning cetaceans, and the contribution of fishers- local knowledge to the conservation of that group. In particular, we aim to record fishers- knowledge in relation to cetaceans, with emphasis on folk taxonomy. The studied area is São Sebastião, located in the southeastern coast of Brazil, where 70 fishers from 14 communities were selected according to their fishing experience and interviewed through questionnaires about classification, nomenclature and ecological aspects of local cetaceans- species. Our results indicated that most fishers classified cetaceans as belonging to the life-form -fish-. Fishers- citations for the nomenclature of the 11 biological species 10 biological genera, resulted in 14 folk species 3 generic names. Fishers- taxonomy was influenced mostly by the phenotypic and cultural salience of the studied cetaceans. Cultural transmission, vertical and horizontal, was intimately linked to fishers- classification process. The most salient species, therefore well recognized and named, were those most often caught by gillnets, in addition to the biggest ones and those most exposed by media, through TV programs, which were watched and mentioned by fishers. Our results showed that fishers- ecological knowledge could be a valuable contribution to cetaceans- conservation, helping to determine areas and periods for their protection, indicating priority topics for research and participating in alternative management related to the gillnet fisheries.

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-1746-4269-3-9 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Author: Shirley P Souza - Alpina Begossi

Source: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/1746-4269-3-9

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