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PFS-Tropical Asia
   Location:Home > Research > Research Progress
Shifting Baselines on a Tropical Forest Frontier
Author: LIU Jingxin
Update time: 2014-02-07
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  "The Advanced Field Course for Ecology and Conservation" is proud to announce the publication of research in PLOS ONE by three students from the 2012 course.

     Zhang Kai, Teoh Shu Woan and Li Jie conducted a project on the indigenous names of animals near the Bulong Reserve in western Xishuangbanna, where the field component of the course was held. Lie Jie, who works for the Xishuangbanna Nature Reserves, is native to the township of Mengsong, and helped the team talk to the people in Akha language. The team was interested in trends in the local knowledge about animals, and they used earlier research by Zhang Kai to prepare pictures of common, rare or extirpated (locally extinct) birds and mammals to the local people.

     They found that the abundance of animals was the largest determinant of whether people could assign a name: very few people were able to name rare or extirpated animals (except for some large mammals, known about through TV). In addition, older people were better able to assign specific names to animals, equivalent to giving both a genus and species name in Akha. The research underscores that the extirpation of animals, whether driven by habitat loss, fragmentation or hunting, will result in the loss of cultural knowledge about animals. This loss of knowledge potentially produces a vicious cycle, because cultural knowledge about animals can be helpful in building support in the community for conservation.

   The students’ research entitled “Shifting baselines on a tropical forest frontier: extirpations drive declines in local ecological knowledge”  has been published in PLOS ONE.

 This is the 7th paper by the participants of AFEC-X runned by the Program for Field Studies in Tropical Asia of XTBG. For more publications of PFS office, please visit  http://www.pfs-tropasia.org/publications/


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Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Menglun, Mengla, Yunnan 666303, China
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