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Conservation Biology and Traditional Ecological Knowledge: Integrating Academic Disciplines for Better Conservation Practice

Joshua A Drew, Boston University Marine Program
Adam P Henne, Anthropology Department - University of Georgia

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Abstract

Conservation biology and environmental anthropology are disciplines that are both concerned with the identification and preservation of diversity, in one case biological and in the other cultural. Both conservation biology and the study of traditional ecoloigcal knowledge function at the nexus of the social and natural worlds, yet historically there have been major impediments to integrating the two. Here we identify linguistic, cultural, and epistemological barriers between the two disciplines. We argue that the two disciplines are uniquely positioned to inform each other and to provide critical insights and new perspectives on the way these sciences are practiced. We conclude by synthesizing common themes found in conservation success stories, and by making several suggestions on integration. These include cross-disciplinary publication, expanding memberships in professional societies and conducting multidisciplinary research based on similar interests in ecological process, taxonomy, or geography. Finally, we argue that extinction threats, be they biological or cultural/linguistic are imminent, and that by bringing these disciplines together we may be able to forge synergistic conservation programs capable of protecting the vivid splendor of life on Earth.

Key words

anthropology; conservation; critical analysis; multidisciplinary research.
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087