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A Collaborative Research Process Studying Fruit Availability and Seed Dispersal within an Indigenous Community in the Middle Caqueta River Region, Colombian Amazon

Angela Parrado-Rosselli, Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED), Faculty of Sciences, University of Amsterdam; Tropenbos-International Colombia, Bogota; Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources, Universidad Distrital Francisco José de Caldas, Bogota

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Abstract

The objective of this paper is to present a collaborative research process between the Nonuya indigenous community and western scientists whilst studying fruit production patterns and the role of animals in the spatial distribution patterns of terra firme rain forest tree species in the Colombian Amazon. The process is presented in four stages: initially with a distant relationship between western scientists and indigenous people, with little exchange of knowledge, which progressed into a collaborative research relationship involving a high exchange of knowledge. The first stage consisted of the indigenous people’s participation an exclusively scientific research project on natural sciences, as passive fieldwork guides. The second stage occurred when the guide became a fieldwork assistant and received training and expertise in scientific methodologies for data collection. The relationship between western scientists and indigenous people developed into the ability to have frequent debates and discussions over observations, findings, and interpretations. In the third stage, the indigenous fieldwork assistant proposed his own research, wherein he combined both scientific methodologies, and dialogue with elders in order to obtain information. During the fourth stage of the process, high quality information, relevant to the needs of both the western scientists and indigenous people was generated. This collaborative research process allowed the exchange of experiences, methodologies, and learning, leading to a better understanding of tropical rainforests. In this paper, the implications of this experience for future studies with the indigenous communities are discussed.

Key words

Amazon region; indigenous peoples’ knowledge; Nonuya indigenous community; plant-animal relationships; scientific knowledge;Tropenbos–International Colombia.
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087