Distribution of traditional ecological knowledge about medicinal plants in an Amazonian community
The Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) regarding plant resources, especially medicines, is highly dynamic and subject to environmental, socioeconomic, and cultural influences. It also varies according to gender, age, length of residence, income, level of education, and the family roles played by individuals. This article studies different determinants of the distribution of TEK and their possible influences on the cultural transmission process in a traditional community located in a protected area of the Brazilian Amazon basin. Structured socioeconomic interviews and collection of ethnobotanical data by Free List were carried out with 43 residents using the snowball sampling technique in a community located within the Tapajós–Arapiuns Extractivist Reserve in the state of Pará, Brazil. Six socioeconomic factors were evaluated with regard to TEK about medicinal plants: age, gender, professional occupation, education, monthly family income, and length of residence in the community. The study shows that the greater the age and length of residence time in the community, the greater the knowledge regarding medicinal plants. Men and women tend to have similar TEK and those who are farmers have higher TEK than locals who carry out other activities. We also observed that the higher the level of education, the lower the TEK. Monthly family income tends to be inversely proportional to TEK. We conclude that the knowledge of medicinal plants can be influenced by socioeconomic factors, contributing to form different knowledge patterns that affect the cultural transmission of TEK.