Addressing Social-Ecological Systems across Temporal and Spatial Scales: a Conceptual Synthesis for Ethnobiology

Ulysses Paulino Albuquerque*, David Ludwig, Ivanilda Soares Feitosa, Joelson Moreno Brito de Moura, Patrícia Muniz de Medeiros, Paulo Henrique Santos Gonçalves, Risoneide Henriques da Silva, Taline Cristina da Silva, Thiago Gonçalves-Souza, Washington Soares Ferreira Júnior

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We develop an integrative conceptual framework for addressing social-ecological systems across different spatial and temporal scales. Ethnobiologists study social-ecological systems through the lens of heterogeneous disciplines from the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Despite the integrative ambitions of the field, ethnobiology often remains fragmented through research programs that emphasize different methods and scales. We propose a conceptual synthesis of three processes: (1) cognitive processing, (2) cultural transmission, and (3) biocultural evolution. We also discuss how social negotiation is embedded in them. By showing how these different processes interact across different spatial and temporal scales, we develop a framework for ethnobiological scholarship that can address complex dynamics in social-ecological systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-571
JournalHuman Ecology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2020


  • Biocultural evolution
  • Cognitive processing
  • Cultural transmission
  • Ethnobiology
  • Humanities
  • Knowledge integration
  • Natural sciences
  • Social science
  • Social-ecological systems

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