Ethnobotany in the North Coast of Peru: Use of Plants in the Fishing Community of Huanchaco for Subsistence

Abstract

The subsistence strategies that coastal fishing communities have developed over time are closely related to their interaction with the sea. Fishing is generally the principal economic activity of the members of these communities; however, the use of botanical resources has also contributed to their subsistence through time. This is the case of the Huanchaco fishing community that live on the north coast of Peru. They use reeds to construct sea vessels for fishing and other plants growing locally for diverse economic and cultural activities. To study their traditional relationships with useful plants, an ethnobotanical survey was conducted with 40 members of the fishing community. The objective of this research was to determine the use of local plants for daily activities and the intracultural variation of that knowledge as it relates to age and gender. Results showed that people use plants for food, medicinal, and industrial purposes, and that women and elderly people are more knowledgeable about medicinal and industrial plants than their male and younger counterparts. Although processes of modernization have influenced many aspects of the fishing community’s lifestyle, the existing TEK suggests that plants still play an important role in their daily subsistence strategies.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by a grant from the Anthropology Department at Texas A&M University. We would like to express our gratitude to the fishing community of Huanchaco for their interest and participation in this study. Special thanks to Luis Alexander Urcia and his family for their assistance and hospitality during the field season. Finally, we thank Dr. Vaughn Bryant who read preliminary versions of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Rossana Paredes.

Appendices

Appendix 1: Ethnobotanical Survey for Participants

These questions will be asked during the interview, from the beginning to the end of the survey on useful plants in Huanchaco. Through gathering this information, we will be able to identify the most important plants that the fishing community is using in their daily activities.

Do you use plants in your daily activities?

What kind of plants do you use most?

What are the names of those plants?

Where do you collect those plants?

Why you use those plants? Do they have any use?

How do you use the plant?

Which part of the plant is useful?

How do you know about that plant use?

Are you interested in continuing to learn and transmit that plant knowledge?

Appendix 2: Data Collection Form

The following information will help us to better understand how the fishermen community is using plants in their subsistence activities. We will write down all responses participants provide.

Date:

Informant:

Age

Gender:

Plant use information:

Local name:

Scientific name:

Family:

Type:

Habitat:

Use:

Parts used:

Mode of use:

Frequency:

Status:

Notes:

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Paredes, R., Hopkins, A.L. & Villanueva, F. Ethnobotany in the North Coast of Peru: Use of Plants in the Fishing Community of Huanchaco for Subsistence. Econ Bot 74, 32–45 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12231-020-09486-0

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Key Words

  • Peru
  • coastal fishing communities
  • TEK
  • useful plants
  • intracultural variation of knowledge