The survey, published Monday in the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution, involved experts from institutions in Brazil, Spain, Peru, the United States and the United Kingdom.
The Amazon is home to about 390 billion trees and has one of the greatest biodiversity in the world, but with the current rate of deforestation, 27% of its area could be deforested by 2030.
These data demonstrate the urgent need for accurate and up-to-date estimates of wildlife population abundance to improve biodiversity conservation.
The work compares the abundance values of 91 wild species, obtained after analyzing more than 7,000 km of linear sections (analytical systems), with knowledge of 291 inhabitants from 17 parts of the Amazon.
The results show a great similarity between the two methods, indicating that local knowledge is as reliable as the traditional scientific methods currently in use.
The researchers even note that local ecological knowledge is much stronger than linear ones when it comes to certain species that are rarely observed in their environment, such as nocturnal, cryptic, less abundant, or less hunted species.
“The perception of the local population is multisensory: it includes hearing, smell, and other indirect visual cues,” says the study’s lead author and ICTA-UAB researcher, Franchii Braga-Pereira.
According to Braga Pereira, this knowledge also includes “different scales of time and space,” since local people are in contact with the forest “all year round and throughout the territory of their community.”
In this sense, Pedro Mayor, a researcher in the Department of Animal Health and Anatomy at UAB and co-author of the study, asserts, “Populations walk through the forest at night and during the day, while linear sections are generally performed only during the day.”
Mayor also says that this knowledge “means more hours that local people spend observing the forest, but it is very spread out over time and as they go about their daily activities.”
The authors argue that incorporating this knowledge into wildlife monitoring projects can significantly improve the quality of science and contribute to the sustainability of the world’s rainforests.
“Environmental knowledge is more accurate than ten years of traditional scientific observation of animal abundance in the Amazon,” Braga Pereira says. EFE
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