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Traditional Mapuche ecological knowledge in Patagonia, Argentina: fishes and other living beings inhabiting continental waters, as a reflection of processes of change

Overview of attention for article published in Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, December 2016
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Traditional Mapuche ecological knowledge in Patagonia, Argentina: fishes and other living beings inhabiting continental waters, as a reflection of processes of change
Published in
Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, December 2016
DOI 10.1186/s13002-016-0130-y
Pubmed ID

Juana Aigo, Ana Ladio


Understanding how people interpret environmental change and develop practices in response to such change is essential to comprehend human resource use. In the cosmology of the American indigenous peoples, as among the Mapuche people, freshwater systems are considered a living entity, where animals have an enormous role to play in the universe of meaning. However, human adaptive responses to freshwater system dynamics are scarcely examined. In this work a survey is carried out in three Mapuche communities of Argentine Patagonia to assess their traditional knowledge of the fishes and other non-human living beings that inhabit lakes and rivers. Both material and symbolic aspects are included, as are the differences in knowledge and use of the fishes between past and present times. Our methods were based on a quali-quantitative fieldwork approach. In-depth interviews were carried out with 36 individuals from three rural Mapuche populations in Neuquén province (Patagonia, Argentina). Free listing was used for inquiring about fish knowledge and use. Fishes were identified scientifically and ethnotaxonomically. In-depth analysis of the discourses was conducted, documenting the recognition, perception, and cultural significance of fluvial environments and their inhabitants. Quantitative survey results were analyzed with categorical statistical methods. The body of knowledge of the communities studied reflects the socio-environmental changes experienced by Patagonian freshwater bodies. According to local perception, non-human beings live in these water bodies, guarding the environment, and they should not be disturbed. At present, five different fish species are identified, three of which are exotic, having been introduced at the beginning of the 20th century by the white man. These exotic trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss and Salvelinus fontinalis) are considered ill omens, indicators of the white man's presence, and therefore their appearance presages negative events for the families. In addition, we found that Mapuche people differentiate fish species mainly by morphological, organoleptic and ecological attributes. Current consumption of fish by Mapuche communities is sporadic, in accordance with bibliography and ancient tales. Several fishing tools are used, including modern elements. Our data enable us to characterise dynamic traditional knowledge in these communities, which is flexible in nature and adaptable to new situations, demonstrated by the incorporation not only of new species but also new fishing tools. It also seems that new significances become absorbed in synchrony with the advance or arrival of exotic and invasive species. For the Mapuche, the presence of the white man heralded by exotic trouts speaks of how a recent event, such as the introduction of the salmonids, is already incorporated into Mapuche symbolism. Mapuche traditional knowledge and cosmovision on the use of fish and waters, a vision which promotes respect and the avoidance of actions that could disturb the beings (animals and sacred or mythological characters) that inhabit and take care of them should be fostered as part of management plans of regional natural resources. This paper contributes to the broader literature on freshwater resource management by providing empirical evidence of the critical role of local perceptions in promoting the sustainable management of natural resources.

Mendeley readers

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 95 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 95 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Researcher 15 16%
Student > Doctoral Student 12 13%
Student > Master 11 12%
Student > Bachelor 9 9%
Student > Ph. D. Student 8 8%
Other 16 17%
Unknown 24 25%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 20 21%
Environmental Science 13 14%
Social Sciences 13 14%
Engineering 4 4%
Nursing and Health Professions 3 3%
Other 15 16%
Unknown 27 28%
Attention Score in Context

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 1. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 10 March 2017.
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Outputs from Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine
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Outputs of similar age from Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine
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Altmetric has tracked 22,912,409 research outputs across all sources so far. This one is in the 11th percentile – i.e., 11% of other outputs scored the same or lower than it.
So far Altmetric has tracked 736 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a little more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 5.7. This one is in the 10th percentile – i.e., 10% of its peers scored the same or lower than it.
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