Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Blended ecological knowledge systems yield insight for managing beargrass

22.01.2015

In a study that blended tribal cultural knowledge with scientific methods, U.S. Forest Service researchers identified the ecological conditions of forest sites preferred by harvesters of beargrass for use in traditional weaving.

The study, which is among the first to merge traditional ecological knowledge with scientific ecological knowledge to understand how different knowledge systems can apply to forest management, appears in the January 2015 issue of the Journal of Forestry.


Beargrass leaves are used in traditional basketry by tribal weavers, whose knowledge of good leaf harvesting sites contributed to a novel new study.

Credit: J. Johnson, 2013

"Our premise from the beginning was that the best information for sustaining culturally important plants comes from studies that link traditional ecological and scientific knowledge," said Susan Stevens Hummel, a research forester with the Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station who led the study. "We selected beargrass because of its traditional and commercial value."

Beargrass is a perennial plant that grows in a variety of habitat types and conditions throughout portions of the Western United States. Its durable, flexible leaves, which can be tightly woven, have been harvested by American Indians for generations. The volume of beargrass harvested from federal lands by the multimillion-dollar floral greens industry in California, Oregon, and Washington dwarfs that harvested by tribal members for use in basketry and regalia and for medicinal and decorative purposes.

In the study, Hummel and Frank Lake, a research ecologist with the Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Research Station, combined traditional ecological knowledge and scientific ecological knowledge to identify specific conditions on forested sites that six tribal weavers from three states and four tribes classified as "good," "marginal," or "poor" for beargrass harvesting.

Working from the weavers' subjective classifications, the researchers used field methods adapted from ecology and forestry to quantitatively measure forest and plant characteristics on a total of 72 areas in California, Oregon, and Washington to identify differences among the sites. Among their findings:

  • Levels of coarse woody debris, like fallen trees and branches, differed significantly between good and poor sites in the three states, with sites that tribal harvesters classified as "good" containing less debris than "poor" sites.
  • Sites classified as "good" had fewer trees per acre and were, thus, less dense than sites classified as "poor" by tribal harvesters.
  • Variations in beargrass leaf color decreased as the site class for plant harvest improved.

"The structural elements preferred by tribal weavers for beargrass harvest relate directly to those associated with managing fire behavior in similar forest types," Hummel said.

In addition to a set of site attributes preferred by tribal harvesters, the study also yielded a five-step framework for blending traditional ecological knowledge and scientific ecological knowledge that could be applied to other culturally important plants and fungi, like hazel, huckleberries, and chanterelle mushrooms. The framework begins with consideration of the species' natural and cultural history, and then moves on to recruiting study participants, selecting sites, sampling, sharing preliminary findings with participants, analyzing data, and communicating results.

"We also worked with the tribal weavers during the field visits to develop a decision key that highlights the considerations they gave to certain site and plant conditions," Lake said.

"Our study demonstrates a 'crosswalk' between ecological knowledge derived empirically via the scientific method and via traditional ecological knowledge because clear differences between good and poor harvesting sites were identified by both," Hummel said. "The blended approach we developed and applied demonstrates that scientific ecological knowledge can be advanced by combining qualitative and quantitative methods and that traditional ecological knowledge can be generalized using scientific methods."

###

To learn more about the study, visit http://dx.doi.org/10.5849/jof.13-082.

The Pacific Northwest Research Station--headquartered in Portland, Ore.--generates and communicates scientific knowledge that helps people make informed choices about natural resources and the environment. The station has 11 laboratories and centers located in Alaska, Washington, and Oregon and about 300 employees. Learn more online at http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw.

Yasmeen Sands | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: Beargrass Forest Service Lake USDA ecological findings forest management identify important plants

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Energy crop production on conservation lands may not boost greenhouse gases
13.03.2017 | Penn State

nachricht How nature creates forest diversity
07.03.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>