Sunday, 25 June 2017

How do people select plants for use? Matching the Ecological Apparency Hypothesis with Optimal Foraging Theory

  • Gustavo Taboada Soldati
  • Patrícia Muniz de Medeiros
  • Reinaldo Duque-Brasil
  • France Maria Gontijo Coelho
  • Ulysses Paulino Albuquerque
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DOI: 10.1007/s10668-016-9844-1
Cite this article as:
Soldati, G.T., de Medeiros, P.M., Duque-Brasil, R. et al. Environ Dev Sustain (2016). doi:10.1007/s10668-016-9844-1
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The present study aimed to understand human plant resource usage strategies in the context of the Ecological Apparency Hypothesis and Optimal Foraging Theory. The relationship between plant resource knowledge and availability was tested in a rural community (Palmital) in a dry Atlantic Forest fragment in the state of Minas Gerais, Southeastern Brazil, using data from phytosociological studies and interviews. We considered both total use and separate use categories. Use Value (UV) was significantly associated with all of the analyzed ecological variables, but there was an association with relative dominance and a weak relationship with relative density. When the UVs were separately analyzed for each category, we found that some, i.e., fuel and construction, corroborate the Ecological Apparency Hypothesis, while others do not, particularly the medicinal and food categories. In addition, we found large differences with respect to the ecological variables that best correlated with UV. The data suggest that the cost/benefit relationship predicted by Optimal Foraging Theory can explain the Ecological Apparency Hypothesis when the following factors are considered: (a) resource acquisition optimization and security; (b) a higher probability of acquiring more abundant species during random collection events; and (c) differential utilization patterns (distinct requirements for a specific use) for each use category. Some implications for conservation are also discussed.


Ecological apparency theory Human adaptive strategies Plant resource use Optimization theories Human ecology Evolutionary ethnobiology  

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016