Traditional and local ecological knowledge (TEK/LEK) are important sources of information for wildlife conservation. However, there are often limitations and biases in the TEK/LEK methods used. In this study, we examined and implemented strategies to address the limitations and biases we identified while analyzing the mapped observations collected from 27 interviews as part of a larger project on walruses in Nunavik (Canadian Arctic). Our main objectives were to: (1) examine the importance of recording participants’ temporal and spatial limits of observations; (2) identify the factors influencing the quantity and diversity of mapped observations; (3) study the importance of documenting approximate numbers of animals observed; (4) examine the importance of gathering and presenting data at consistent and standardized spatial scales. We found that by adding to maps the geographic limits of participants’ common areas of observations, we were able to distinguish areas that hunters typically visited and did not see walruses, from areas that hunters never visited. Furthermore, we showed that the variability in the quantity of mapped observations was explained by the community of residence and average number of hunting trips per participant, but not by participant age. Finally, although careful adjustments and standardization would be needed, we showed that by having an estimate of the number of walruses observed per area drawn, it would be possible to estimate mean local abundances of walruses. We hope this careful examination of TEK/LEK methods will help to increase confidence in these datasets as a valuable source of knowledge for wildlife conservation.
Polar Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 4, 2017
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