Traditional Ecological Knowledge and ecosystem services

The inclusion of humans as an aspect of conservation challenges the original tenets of the American conservation movement, which focused on the preservation of the environment by excluding people to protect high value lands as wilderness (Library of Congress, 2002). Traditionally, the role ofhumans in the ecosystem was seen by conservationists and preservationists to be completely removed from the system to protect it, and that systems should be preserved solely for biodiversity and not for resource needs. Partially this was due to early conservationists and preservationists not realizing the often productive impact Indigenous and local people have had on landscape and biodiversity composition over centuries. In fact, there is no such thing as untouched wilderness in the Earth’s habitable environments (Cronon 1996; Balee 1998). People have helped shaped the land nearly everywhere and thus need to be considered more inclusively in environmental management.

Going beyond monetizing the environment for humans’ needs and quantifying what people can obtain and use sustainably, a new literature has begun to consider how humans provide “services to ecosystems”, particularly through the reciprocal relationships inherent in many Indigenous Peoples’ interactions with nature (Comberti et al. 2015). This conceptualization opens up space to integrate ecosystem management and single species conservation concepts.

To further elucidate how people interact with their environment, particularly in the arena ofTEK, a concept was developed simultaneously in two unique environments. Cristancho and

Vining (2004) developed the term “Culturally Defined Keystone Species” from their research in the Amazon, and the same year Garibaldi and Turner coined the term Cultural Keystone Species (CKS), which they defined as a “culturally salient species that shape[s] in a major way the cultural identity of a people, as reflected in the fundamental roles these species have in diet, materials, medicine, and/or spiritual practices” (2004: 4), based on their research in Canada. This concept, in both instances, holds that there are not only pivotal species in ecological landscapes, but also in cultural landscapes. Garibaldi and Turner further explored how to incorporate CKS into environmental conservation and restoration, and due to regional proximity, this chapter discusses their research more.

Bringing it all together

As we have seen, looking at entire ecosystems and linking interactions within them is incredibly complicated.Thus, it is useful to start with a tighter focus. Using species that fulfil both indicator and keystone functions strikes a pragmatic balance between a whole ecosystem focus and one based on a single species.

To underscore the choice of using “indicators” and keystone species in a conservation framework for ТЕК, I turn to Borrett et al. (2014), who examined the ranking of different ecological concepts in 1986 to compare how frequently they still appeared in the literature in 2012. In addition, they added an additional 13 terms which did not appear in 1986 but were deemed to appear frequently in 2012. Of the terms I have looked at in this case study, only indicator species and keystone species appeared in this list, with indicator species originally ranked 29th in 1986, and moving up to a ranking of 14th by 2012, and keystone species which was originally ranked 46th' but moved down to a ranking of 51th by 2012. Neither umbrella nor flagship terms were seen in the ranked list in either year. Keystone species likely moved down in ranking because all but one of the additionally added terms in 2012 were above a 2012 ranking of 48. This illustrates how important, in particular, the indicator concept is. In addition, in a literature review by Siddig et al. (2016), it was shown that the number of papers published referring to indicator species had increased from 8 papers in 2001 to 149 in 2014, showing a massive jump in the use of this concept and its applicability. Additionally, because keystone species have already been situated in a biocultural framework, I feel that this concept would best be used to carry on into my framework of culturally important species which can detect changes in climate and the environment, which will affect harvesting frequency and the durability of the resource, and the cultural process into the future.

Using indicator species and keystone species concepts would focus our attention on single species for management, but also situate the chosen species to illustrate the interconnections within an entire ecosystem, and thus allow us to have a dual view of a single species focus within a broader ecosystems context. While indicator species have not frequently been used in a climate change context (Siddig et al. 2016), in this review, I argue that we need a way of monitoring the effects of a changing climate on the ecosystem into the future, and use it to link to species of importance, and species as indicators and keystones are applicable for this purpose. Hence my concept of Cultural Keystone Indicator Species (CKIS) was developed, which may be defined as: critical species of both cultural importance and perceptual salience in relation to environmental change (Wyllie de Echeverria and Thornton, 2019). To illustrate how this works in practice, this chapter looks at this concept in the Pacific Northwest, and uses two case studies: Sitka black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hermionus sitkensis); and salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis) and blueberries (l·liainiutn spp.) together (as they occupy similar cultural and ecological roles, and are being impacted by climate change in similar ways), to investigate how CKIS can reflect climatic influences in an ecosystem. These case study examples are both indicator and keystone species in their ecosystems and are culturally important, so local people pay attention to their population fluctuations, and manage them through traditional ecological knowledge, leading them to be climate change indicators.

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