Engagement with indigenous people preserves local knowledge and biodiversity alike

  • Elliot M. Gardner (Creator)
  • Aida Shafreena Ahmad Puad (Creator)
  • Joan T. Pereira (Creator)
  • Jugah anak Tagi (Creator)
  • Salang anak Nyegang (Creator)
  • Postar Miun (Creator)
  • Jeisin Jumian (Creator)
  • Lisa Pokorny (Creator)
  • Nyree Zerega (Creator)



Recent events have brought increasing attention to social inequities in the sciences, including those stemming from the legacy of colonialism. In biological classification, Western scientists have long benefitted from traditional indigenous knowledge but have usually not engaged with it on equal footing, often providing a biased assessment of biodiversity. We illustrate how adopting a collaborative approach results in a better, more complete understanding of biodiversity that promotes conservation of both the environment and indigenous knowledge. This study concerns the Bornean fruit tree species, Artocarpus odoratissimus, which has remained a single species in Western diagnosis but corresponds to two species in the traditional taxonomy of the Iban people. Molecular data from newly collected and historical specimens unequivocally support the Iban two-species framework. We advocate a more expansive approach to standardized scientific taxonomy that welcomes indigenous peoples as equal partners and that integrates diverse forms of taxonomic knowledge, ultimately resulting in improved understanding of evolutionary history and more effective conservation and management of biodiversity.
Date made availableJun 15 2023

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