What is ethnobiology?

Ethnobiology is a scientific discipline studying the interactions between humans and environment in the cultural context.

Ethnobiologists explore for instance the use of plants and animals as food, medicine, and as materials or for ritual purposes and they study related values, concepts, classifications and historico-cultural processes.

Due to the inter-and transdisciplinary approach ethnobiology applies research methods of various disciplines such as botany, zoology, ecology, medicine, pharmacology, anthropology, archeology, sociology, linguistics and economics. Interviews and participant observations are just as much part of the research as the compilation and identification of plants and animals or the analysis of natural products.

Ethnobiology makes an important contribution to comprehension and appreciation of local knowledge as well as cultural and biological diversity. Applied ethnobiology includes conservation, development cooperation, primary health care and – especially in Europe – complementary medicine.