Concepts and methods in studies measuring individual ethnobotanical knowledge

Victoria Reyes-García*, Neus Martí, Thomas McDade, Susan Tanner, Vincent Vadez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


We review 34 quantitative studies that have measured individual-level variations in ethnobotanical knowledge, analyzing how those studies have conceptualized and operationalized ethnobotanical knowledge. We found that this type of research is recent but growing, and is concentrated in indigenous peoples of developing countries. We also found that studies differ on how they conceptualize and measure individual ethnobotanical knowledge. As it is the case in other interdisciplinary research, the lack of conceptual consistency and comparable data limit the inferences that can be drawn from empirical analyses of ethnobotanical knowledge. Future research should 1) validate the consistency of measures of individual ethnobotanical knowledge; 2) analyze the reliability of data generated by the different methods developed so far; and 3) address the relationship between the various dimensions of ethnobotanical knowledge. Studies of individual ethnobotanical knowledge have the potential to contribute to a systematic understanding of humanity's most widespread and ancient form of knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-203
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Ethnobiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2007


  • ethnobotanical knowledge
  • folk knowledge
  • intra-cultural variation
  • quantitative methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Anthropology
  • Plant Science


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