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DISENTANGLING THE BIOCULTURAL ROOTS OF MEDICINAL PLANT KNOWLEDGE: TESTING ETHNOBOTANICAL HYPOTHESES IN SOLOMON ISLANDS

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Title:DISENTANGLING THE BIOCULTURAL ROOTS OF MEDICINAL PLANT KNOWLEDGE: TESTING ETHNOBOTANICAL HYPOTHESES IN SOLOMON ISLANDS
Authors:Bond, Matthew
Contributors:Gaoue, Orou G. (advisor)
Botany (department)
Keywords:Ecology
Botany
Pacific Rim studies
biocultural conservation
ethnobotany
show 4 morehuman ecology
medicinal plants
quantitative ethnobiology
Solomon Islands
show less
Date Issued:2020
Publisher:University of Hawai'i at Manoa
Abstract:Ecological knowledge is fundamentally linked to the function, diversity, evolution, and stability of biological and cultural systems (also called biocultural systems) and the ecosystem services they provide. However, there is currently limited understanding of how ecological knowledge develops and is distributed among humans. In this dissertation, I assessed the medicinal plant knowledge, sociocultural demographics, and social network connections of 305 people in four subsistence villages in Solomon Islands. These data were used to test theories of how the distribution of medicinal plant knowledge is affected by plant availability, sociocultural demographic factors, and social network connectivity. The dissertation is divided into four chapters. First, I provide the first comprehensive review of availability theory in medicinal plants, and test whether recent research has fewer methodological limitations than older research. Second, I test how age and gender affect plant availability theory, which predicts that plants which are more available to people are more likely to be known and used, while examining synergistic effects between various predictors of plant use. Third, I provide the first test of how age, gender, sociality, education, outdoor exposure, income, and medical clinic use interact to affect medicinal plant knowledge using structural equation modeling. Finally, I use exponential random graph modeling to analyze medicinal knowledge sharing networks and provide the first test of how prestige and homophily affect network structure and teacher selection. Testing these theories enhances understanding of (1) which characteristics of people and cultures are associated with different kinds and amounts of medicinal plant knowledge (such as age, social status, social experience, and proximity to plants), and (2) which plant traits are associated with medicinal plant use (such as size, community diversity, and lifespan). Taken together, these results suggest applications to (1) identify which people and cultures are most likely to know plant species that have pharmaceutical potential for specific diseases (such as infections), (2) select plant species and communities that are most likely to have medicinal activity, and (3) conserve ecological knowledge more efficiently by understand how specific biological and sociocultural factors affect medicinal plant knowledge.
Pages/Duration:213 pages
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/10125/68914
Rights:All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - Botany


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