Ethnobiology Defined

Ethnobiology is the study of the relationships between people and biological fields of study, or between people and nature. Many fields exist within the overarching domain of ethnobiology (e.g., ethnobotany, paleoethnobotany, ethnozoology, ethnopharmacology, etc.). How do humans interact with, learn about, think about, symbolize about, and affect the world/universe around them?

Intellectual Imperatives in Ethnobiology (pdf)
Jan Salick and a working group of ethnobiologists who attended the 2003 NSF Biocomplexity Workshop produced a report “Intellectual Imperatives in Ethnobiology.” In this report they describe ethnobiology as the multidisciplinary, “scientific study of dynamic relationships among peoples, biota, and environments.”

Kaua`i Declaration (pdf)
A group of 44 ethnobiologists gathered in Kaua`i in January, 2007, as an “Ethnobotany Summit.” Their deliberations resulted in a “Kaua`i Declaration.” The final paragraph of this document is listed below.

Ethnobotany can strengthen our links to the natural world. It is of central importance for understanding the collective experience of humankind in a series of exceedingly diverse environments and using those experiences to meet the challenges that we face. It makes it possible for us to learn from the past and from the diverse approaches to plants represented by the different human cultures that exist today. Ethnobotany is at once a vital key to preserving the diversity of plants as well as to understanding and interpreting the knowledge by which we are, and will be, enabled to deal with them effectively and sustainably throughout the world. Thus ethnobotany is the science of survival.

Declaration of Belem
Anthropologists, biologists, chemists, sociologists and representatives of several indigenous populations met July, 1988 in Belem, Brazil to discuss common concerns at the First International Congress of Ethnobiology and to found the International Society of Ethnobiology.

Ethical Conduct

Ethical Conduct is a vital facet to conducting ethnobiological research, research that deals with human subjects, human knowledge, resources, and land.

Ethnobiologists adhere to a number of professional codes of ethics, depending upon their professional affiliations and disciplinary fields. American researchers who work with human subjects must undergo ethics training (for example, CITI) and each project is reviewed and monitored by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) (see American Anthropological Association link below).

International Codes, Declarations and Statements

Professional Codes of Ethics