Fishers’ Knowledge of Marine Species Assemblages: Bridging between Scientific and Local Ecological Knowledge in Southeastern Puerto Rico

García-Quijano, C.G. 2007. Fishers’ knowledge of marine species assemblages:
Bridging between scientific and local ecological knowledge
in southeastern Puerto Rico. American Anthropologist 109, 3, 529-
536.

Abstract: 
Increasingly, local ecological knowledge (LEK) held by groups of people engaging directly with their ecosystems for food production is recognized as a valuable tool for understanding environmental change, as well as for ecosystem management and conservation. However, the acceptance of LEK for resource management has been partly hindered by difficulties in translating local knowledge into a form that can be applied directly to Western scientific endeavors. Anthropology’s focus on cultural meaning makes its practitioners uniquely qualified to find common ground between different systems of knowledge. Here, I report the use of ethnographic methods to represent Puerto Rican small-scale fishers’ knowledge about tropical coastal habitat connectivity and the composition of species assemblages by underwater habitats. These two topics are of current interest for tropical fishery science and their study can benefit from fishers’ extensive experience with the coastal environments on which they depend. [Keywords: local ecological knowledge, tropical fisheries, Caribbean, ethnoecology, methods]