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 Cereals use chemical defenses in a multifunctional manner against different herbivores
06.12.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie

nachricht Can rice filter water from ag fields?
05.12.2018 | American Society of Agronomy

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: Light from a roll – hybrid OLED creates innovative and functional luminous surfaces

Up to now, OLEDs have been used exclusively as a novel lighting technology for use in luminaires and lamps. However, flexible organic technology can offer much more: as an active lighting surface, it can be combined with a wide variety of materials, not just to modify but to revolutionize the functionality and design of countless existing products. To exemplify this, the Fraunhofer FEP together with the company EMDE development of light GmbH will be presenting hybrid flexible OLEDs integrated into textile designs within the EU-funded project PI-SCALE for the first time at LOPEC (March 19-21, 2019 in Munich, Germany) as examples of some of the many possible applications.

The Fraunhofer FEP, a provider of research and development services in the field of organic electronics, has long been involved in the development of...

Im Focus: Regensburg physicists watch electron transfer in a single molecule

For the first time, an international team of scientists based in Regensburg, Germany, has recorded the orbitals of single molecules in different charge states in a novel type of microscopy. The research findings are published under the title “Mapping orbital changes upon electron transfer with tunneling microscopy on insulators” in the prestigious journal “Nature”.

The building blocks of matter surrounding us are atoms and molecules. The properties of that matter, however, are often not set by these building blocks...

Im Focus: University of Konstanz gains new insights into the recent development of the human immune system

Scientists at the University of Konstanz identify fierce competition between the human immune system and bacterial pathogens

Cell biologists from the University of Konstanz shed light on a recent evolutionary process in the human immune system and publish their findings in the...

Im Focus: Transformation through Light

Laser physicists have taken snapshots of carbon molecules C₆₀ showing how they transform in intense infrared light

When carbon molecules C₆₀ are exposed to an intense infrared light, they change their ball-like structure to a more elongated version. This has now been...

Im Focus: Famous “sandpile model” shown to move like a traveling sand dune

Researchers at IST Austria find new property of important physical model. Results published in PNAS

The so-called Abelian sandpile model has been studied by scientists for more than 30 years to better understand a physical phenomenon called self-organized...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Global Legal Hackathon at HAW Hamburg

11.02.2019 | Event News

The world of quantum chemistry meets in Heidelberg

30.01.2019 | Event News

Our digital society in 2040

16.01.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

New therapeutic approach to combat African sleeping sickness

20.02.2019 | Life Sciences

Powering a pacemaker with a patient's heartbeat

20.02.2019 | Medical Engineering

The holy grail of nanowire production

20.02.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>