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Use of Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Marine Conservation

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Abstract:  Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) represents multiple bodies of knowledge accumulated through many generations of close interactions between people and the natural world. TEK and its application via customary ecological management plans can be useful in modern conservation programs. I disaggregate the term TEK into its constituent parts and show several ways in which TEK can strengthen research designs by increasing locality‐specific knowledge, including environmental linkages occurring in those localities. Examples of the uses of TEK in conservation include folk taxonomy in systematics in Micronesia, species knowledge for conservation in Kiribati, and fishers' knowledge of ecological interactions for reserve design in Belize. When conservationists recognize the utility of TEK, they can engage in an equitable exchange of knowledge and foster shared responsibility with indigenous people. These types of exchanges can also provide an opportunity for indigenous people to develop a scientific infrastructure.
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Language: English

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Ecology Evolution and Environmental Biology, Columbia University, 1200 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027, U.S.A.

Publication date: August 1, 2005

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