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Useful woody species and its environmental availability: the case of artisanal fishermen in Itaunas, Brazil/Especies lenhosas uteis e sua disponibilidade no ambiente: o caso dos pescadores artesanais em Itaunas, Brasil.


Ethnobotany is a science that links anthropology and botany, whose objective is to catalogue plant use by the human species (Prance, 1991) and approach the study of human societies and their cultural, ecological, genetic, evolutionary and symbolic interactions with plants (Fonseca-Kruel, & Peixoto, 2004). Ethnobotany studies make discoveries about plant utility in several instances, such as: medicinal, food and construction (Begossi, Leitao-Filho, & Richerson, 1993) and relate them to the ecological contest of vegetation exploration (Prance, 1991). Thus, one of the objectives of this science is to promote sustainable use and conservation of natural resources, besides approximating scientific research from social needs, since these studies can generate information applied to the environment and local populations (Oliveira, Albuquerque, FonsecaKruel, & Hanazaki, 2009).

Vegetal resources are considered very important for same local populations on the Brazilian coast (Hanazaki, 2003). The restinga, a vegetation type of the Brazilian coast, presents distinct phytophisiognomies through environmental gradients (Scarano, 2002), with eleven of these formations being described for Espfrito Santo state (Pereira, 2003). An expressive floristic diversity has been reported for this state (Assis, Pereira, & Thomaz, 2004, Giaretta, Menezes, & Pereira, 2013), as well as for types of uses for plants occurring on restinga, Lopes & Lobao, 2013). However, real estate speculation and touristic demands generate threats to vegetal resources conservation on this ecosystem (Thomazi, Rocha, Oliveira, Bruno, & Silva, 2013).

Quantitative approaches and methods in Ethnobotany studies have been getting more frequent in the last decades (Phillips & Gentry, 1993a, 1993b, Begossi, 1996, Dzerefos & Witkowski, 2001, Oliveira, Lins-Neto, Araujo, & Albuquerque, 2007, Lucena, Lucena, Araujo, Alves, &

Albuquerque, 2013). Some studies evaluated species use-value for local populations, for showing which plants are preferred for each population (Phillips & Gentry, 1993b, Galeano, 2000, Crepaldi & Peixoto, 2010). Studies also related use-values with species availability in their natural ecosystems (Phillips & Gentry, 1993b, Torres-Cuadro & Islebe, 2003, Ferraz, Albuquerque, & Meunier, 2006), testing the hypothesis of the ecological appearance (Phillips & Gentry, 1993b) and making possible to identify over-exploration of plants (Luoga, Witkowski, & Balkwill, 2000). However, Phillips and Gentry (1993b) calculated the use-values index based in the knowledge of local informants about useful species (potential utilization value) and Lucena et al. (2013) adapted this index, using the frequency of collection of the vegetation species by local informants (real utilization value).

Other quantitative method used is the conservation priority index (Dzerefos & Witkowski, 2001, Oliveira et al., 2007, Crepaldi & Peixoto, 2010), in which species more threatened by possible human use intensity are pointed out (Dzerefos & Witkowski, 2001). This index provides information about the sustainability of harvesting of the plants considered useful to local population (Oliveira et al., 2007) and support best discussion about conservation priorities this vegetation species (Crepaldi & Peixoto, 2010).

The present study aimed to: 1. Quantify the usevalue (potential utilization value) of woody species mentioned by fishers and sampled in structural surveys of two phytophysiognomies (shrubby and forest) of resting vegetation; 2. Evaluate the relation between use-value and their respective structural parameters (importance values, absolute density and frequency) in the ecosystem; 3. Verify the proportion of useful species occurring in shrubby and forest formations, quantity of useful species exclusive to each environment and species with higher conservation priority index in each formation.

It is expected to be found positive relations between use-values and structural parameters of the woody community, indicating that the highest availability of the plant in its natural environment, the higher its use-value for the population is likely to occur (Phillips & Gentry, 1993b).

Material and methods

Study area

This research was carried out in 2009 and 2010, with Artisanal fishers that lived around (Itaunas village) and inside in the Itaunas State Park, belonging to the municipality of Conceicao da Barra, northern Espfrito Santo, Brazil (Figure 1). Conceicao da Barra was raised to municipality status in 1891 and the Itaunas village was acknowledged in 1911 (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatfstica [IBGE], 2014).

The Itaunas State Park (Parque Estadual de Itaunas: PEI) was created in 1991, has a 3.450 ha area and a 90.204.971 m perimeter (Centro de Pesquisa do Mar [Cepemar] & Instituto Estadual do Meio Ambiente e Recursos Hdricos [Iema], 2004) (Figure 1). Since implementation of PEI, there are several conflicts with local residents regarding pre-established dwellings and use of natural resources in Park areas. PEI encompasses several ecosystems of the Atlantic domain: restingas, dunes, mangroves and lowlands tropical rain forest (Ricco & Junior, 2007).

Itaunas village has approximately 2.000 inhabitants (Instituto de Apoio a Pesquisa e ao Desenvolvimento [Ipes], 2001), from different ethnological groups (indigenous people from several tribes, Africans and Portuguese), resulting in a high cultural diversity (Ricco & Junior, 2007). Afrodescendants are predominant in the village, due to the intense slave trade in the beginning of the nineteenth century in northern Espfrito Santo (Ricco & Junior, 2007). Artisanal fishers in Itaunas are organized in an Association with approximately 350 members, and is considered one of the bestarticulated entities in the village. This study had the approval of the director of the fishers' community of Itaunas and of the Ethics Committee of the Universidade Federal do Espirito Santo (Ufes).

Itaunas economy was based on hunting, fishing, subsistence agriculture and commerce. After 1970, part of the vegetation was replaced by eucalyptus monocultures, which suppressed the inhabitants' natural subsistence source. Currently, the village's economy is focusing in artisanal fishing and mainly in tourism (Ricco & Junior, 2007). This is the major income source for inhabitants and has been promoting ecological conscience to several of them, since the natural beauties of PEI are among the main touristic attractions (Ricco & Junior, 2007).

Data collection and analysis

It was used data from a previous ethnobotanical survey (Lopes & Lobao, 2013), which obtained information about useful plants of resting vegetation through semi-structured interviews and collection of plants mentioned by artisanal fishers of Itaunas village. From the total of species mentioned in the ethno botanical survey (Lopes & Lobao, 2013), 38% (30 species) were also sampled in structural surveys of the vegetation in Itaunas region: in forest in 2009 and 2010, in which the authors used the permanent plots methods (Giaretta et al., 2013), and open shrubby formations in 2010, in which the authors used the line intercept methods (Monteiro, Giaretta, Pereira, & Menezes, 2014). A total of 30 species were selected for this study's analysis. More detailed information about interviews and plant collections can be found in Lopes and Lobao (2013), and about the structural survey in Giaretta et al. (2013) and Monteiro et al. (2014).

The use-values were calculated as per Phillips and Gentry (1993b), modified by Rossato, LeitaoFilho, and Begossi (1999), for the 30 selected woody species. Use-value is an index in which the ratio between amount of species citation and number of interviewed informers is calculated (Rossato et al., 1999). For the same plants, absolute density and frequency, and importance value in sampled environments were also verified (Giaretta et al., 2013, Monteiro et al., 2014). Importance value is an index resulting from the sum of relative density, relative dominance and relative frequency values of the species in the ecosystem.

The relation between the use-value and structural parameters (importance value, absolute density and frequency) was evaluated in both phytophysiognomies, through non-parametric linear Spearman correlation, using the software Past (Hammer, Harper, & Ryan, 2001).

It was calculated the priority conservation index for useful species of each vegetation formation, according to Dzerefos and Witkowski (2001), modified by Crepaldi and Peixoto (2010), in which the density measure is individual 0.1 ha. The conservation priority index was calculated through weighted values of species density, collection risk, local importance and/or diversity of use (Dzerefos & Witkowski, 2001) (Table 1).

Results and discussion

It was not detected significant correlation regarding plant UV and their respective structural parameters (absolute density and frequency, and importance value), when evaluating species sets from both formations separately (Table 2). This indicates that there is no interdependence between availability of the plant in the resting and the knowledge of informers (potential of use). This result contradicts (Phillips & Gentry, 1993b) and corroborates (Ferraz et al., 2006) other researches. Torres-Cuadros and Islebe (2003) reported that not always plant use-value is related to its availability on the system.

The highest use-values (UV) were observed for Protium heptaphyllum (1.03), Protium icicariba (1.03), Byrsonima sericea (0.76) and Anacardium occidentale (0.69-Table 3). The first three occur in both formations and A. occidentale is exclusive to the shrubby formation. P .heptaphyllum, Ocotea notata and Clusia hilariana had the biggest Importance Values (IV) among woody species from the Shrubby Formation (SF) (Monteiro et al., 2014). Protium heptaphyllum, Ocotea lobi and Tapirira guianensis had the highest IVs on Forest Formation (FF) (Giaretta et al., 2013).

Regarding absolute density (ind./0.1 ha), the highest values belong to Ocotea notata, Protium heptaphyllum and Hirtella corymbosa in the shrubby formation. However, in the forest formation the highest values were from Ocotea lobi, Unonopsis aurantiaca and Protium heptaphyllum. Highest absolute frequency values from Ocotea notata, Protium heptaphyllum and Clusia hilariana were detected in the shrubby formation (Monteiro et al., 2014) and from Ocotea lobi and Pouteria caimito in the forest formation (Giaretta et al., 2013).

Protium heptaphyllum and Protium icicariba are among the species with highest use, importance, absolute frequency and density values. In this case, high use-value may be related to availability on the environment. Both species are known by the same common name, however they are differentiated as different varieties (Lopes & Lobao, 2013). Despite results showing that use value for the plant set is not related with its environmental availability, this may be detected for some species (Ferraz et al., 2006). Besides, P. heptaphyllumis frequently cited by different populations for several types of use (Pasa, Soares, & Guarim-Neto, 2004, Cunha & Albulquerque, 2006, Crepaldi & Peixoto, 2010), also being reported its use in pharmacology (Oliveira et al., 2005, Aracao et al., 2006). This species presents wide distribution in Brazil (Daly, 2014) and is reported in vegetation listings as one of the most abundant species on restinga (Assumpcao & Nascimento, 2000, Assis et al., 2004). The use of P. heptaphyllumby different populations and its elevated distribution and frequency may facilitate this wide knowledge (common sense).

From the 30 woody species mentioned as useful by informers and collected in structural listings, 25 occur in forest formation, representing 22% of the sampled species total in the structural listing of the area (Giaretta et al., 2013), 16 of them being exclusive from this formation. For the open shrubby formation, 14 species were mentioned as useful by fishers, representing 43.75% of the woody species total (32) sampled in this environment (Monteiro et al., 2014), four being exclusive from this formation. The greatest amount of useful species cited exclusively for forest environment may be related with the higher richness of woody taxa in this environment (Giaretta et al., 2013), when compared to the shrubby formation (Monteiro et al., 2014). However, it was detected that the proportion between total useful species/woody species in the environment is superior on the shrubby formation. This may be associated with a closer proximity of this formation to the beach, most likely making it easier for fishers to collect and identify useful plants.

Other studies pointed out a superior percentage of useful species/species sampled in listings ratio, when compared to the present study: indigenous people on Amazon forest (49 to 79%-Prance, Ballee, Boom, & Carnaria, 1987), African descendants in Choco (62%-Galeano, 2000), rural populations in Tanzania (69%-Luoga et al., 2000) and in the Brazilian northeastern semi-arid (91.3%-Ferraz et al., 2006). This suggests a possible lower dependency from fishers of Itaunas to the woody resting vegetation. This may be due to the presence of a full protection conservation unit in Itaunas, PEI, where direct use of natural resources is forbidden. Besides, other associated fact is the recent urbanization of the village, probably generating changes on its inhabitants' characteristics, such as access to industrialized products (bottled gas for cooking, pharmaceutical medicines and processed food), leading to a smaller dependence from subsistence natural resources (Ricco & Junior, 2007). Opinions about establishment of full protection unities in areas where there is previous existence of local inhabitants are controversial (Albuquerque & Andrade, 2002). However, when communities are inserted in activities developed by the Park, it is possible to raise the inhabitants' awareness about the actual activities of the Institution (Albuquerque & Andrade, 2002).

In the open shrubby formation, two species meet the Category 1 of the Conservation Priority Index (CPI) and in the forest formation eight species had high values (Category 1) for conservation priority, Byrsonima sericea and Clusia hilariana presenting the maximum value (100) (Table 4).

The Maximum conservation priority values for Byrsonima sericea and Clusia hilariana in the forest formation were due to their low density in this formation and to the use of their trunks for firewood. This type of use possibly generates total removal of the individual, which increases collection risk (Dzerefos & Witkowski, 2001) and it is among the most destructive and impacting activities for plant communities (Luoga et al., 2000). Clusia hilariana is facilitator species in the ecological succession process in the restinga (Dias, Zaluar, Ganade, & Scarano, 2005) and has several morphophysiological attributes related to assimilation of water and nutrients that differentiates it from other species of this environment (Rosado & Mattos, 2010), indicating the need to conserve C. hilariana for better ecosystem functional. However, B. secicea is frequently observed at the edge in ecosystems (personal communication), local not quantified in the evaluated structural work, fact that may hold for their high value as the index of conservation priority.


Therefore, the data showed a null correlation between use-values and species structural parameters. Protium heptaphyllum and P. Icicariba were the most cited by fishers, apparently due to their high availability in the resting and by the widespread use of Protium heptaphyllum in several communities.

Species classified in category (1) (Table 4), according to conservation priority values, must be protected from exploration and could be cultivated in areas outside PEI for fishers' use.

Doi: 10.4025/actascibiolsci.v39i2.33187


The authors would like to thank the fishers that participated in interviews and plant collection; MSc. Augusto Giaretta for his assistance in species identification; Dr. Luis Fernando Tavares de Menezes for providing loan of collection material and sample storage and Dr. Carlos Frederico Duarte da Rocha by revision of text in the discipline Scientific Article.


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Received on August 21, 2016.

Accepted on March 14, 2017.

Lucas Costa Monteiro Lopes (1) *, Maria Otavia Silva Crepaldi (2) and Adriana Quintella Lobao (3)

(1) Departamento de Ecologia, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Rua Sao Francisco Xavier, 524, Pavilhao Haroldo Lisboa da Cunha, 20 andar, sala 224, 20550-019, Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (2) Programa de Pos-Graduacao em Ciencia Ambiental, Instituto de Energia e Ambiente, Universidade de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil. (3) Departamento de Biologia Geral, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Federal Fluminense, Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

* Author for correspondence. E-mail:

Caption: Figure 1. Location of Itaunas State Park (Black drawing) and Itaunas Village (Gray circle), Conceicao da Barra, Espirito Santo, Brasil.
Table 1. Scoring criteria used to identify species with conservation
priority (Dzerefos & Witkowski 2001), in which the scale of the
individuals density was modified according to Crepaldi and Peixoto

Criterion score                                    Points

A. Density in the area (average number of individuals 0.1 ha.) (D)

Not recorded-very low (0-1)                          10
Low (1.1-3.5)                                        7
Medium (3.6-7.1)                                     4
High (> 7.1)                                         1

B. Harvestingrisk (C)

Destructive collection of the entire plant,
  bulbs and stalks, removal of cork-tissue,
  bark, or roots. Represents the removal of
  the individual and its
  future offspring from the population               10
Removal of the perennial structures, such as         7
  roots and bark without causing individual
Removal of the permanent aerial structures           4
  such as leaves, stems, and sap, affecting
  plant energetic investments, survival, and
  reproductive success
Removal of transitory aerial structures, such        1
  as flowers and fruits. Population
  regeneration may be altered in the long-term
  as these produce or hold seeds but the
  individual plant, particularly where asexual
  reproduction is possible, is not affected

C. Local use (L)

High (cited by more than 20% of the informants)      10
Moderately high (10-20%)                             7
Moderately low (10% of all citations)                4
Low (only referred to in the literature)             1

D. Use-diversity (Div)

For each use, add one point to maximum of            10

Biological value (B) = D x 10; Use-risk (RU) = 0.5(C) x 0.5(U) 9
10; U = use-value, determined by the largest value between L or Div
(Dzerefos & Witkowski, 2001). Conservation Priority (PC) = 0.5 (B)
X 0.5 (RU). Category 1 (species with rating C [greater than or
equal to] a 85) require conservation priority and should not be
harvested until a management regime is instituted; Category 2
(species with rating between 85 and 60) can be harvested
moderately; Category 3 (species with rating < 60) are appropriate
for harvesting Plant density, harvesting risk, local importance and
diversity of use (modified from--Dzerefos & Witkowski, 2001).

Table 2. Spearman Linear Correlation Values between use-value of
useful woody plants and their respective structural parameters
(absolute density and frequency and importance value), in two
vegetation formations (Shrubby Formation; SF and Forest Formation;
FF) in Itaunas village, Espirito Santo, Brazil.

Structural parameter (vegetation type)    Spearman correlation (P)

Absolute density (FA)                               0.86
Absolute density (FF)                               0.82
Absolute frequency (FA)                             0.9
Absolute frequency (FF)                             0.94
Importance value (FA)                               0.75
Importance value (FF)                               0.4

Table 3. List of woody species mentioned as useful by fishers
of Itaunas village, Espirito Santo, Brazil, showing their
respective common names, use categories and use values (UV).
F: food, H: handicrafts, T: timber, FW: firewood, M:
medicinal, R: ritualistic.

Species                        Popular name      Use category      UV

Protium heptaphyllum             Almescla         AL, C, L, M     1.03
  (Aubl.) Marchand
Protium icicariba                Almescla         AL, C, L, M     1.03
  (DC.) Marchand
Byrsonima sericea DC.             Murici               L          0.76
Anacardium occidental L.           Caju            AL, L, M       0.69
Peraglabrata (Schott)           Sete casco           C, L         0.52
  Poepp. Ex Baill.
Pera leandri Baill.             Sete casco           C, L         0.52
Hancornia speciosa Gomes         Mangaba              AL          0.45
Eschweilera ovata                 Biriba        AL, AS, C, L, M   0.45
  Mart. ex Miers
Clusia hilariana Schltdl.        Abaneiro              L          0.34
Schinus terebinthifolius         Aroeira          AS, L, M, R     0.31
Unonopsis aurantiaca         Pindaiba cutia,           C          0.31
  Maas e Westra               Pindaiba preta
Emmotum nitens Miers               Faia            AS, C, L       0.31
Xylopia sericea              Pindaiba branca         C, L         0.28
Micropholis venulosa            Corrubixa            AL, C        0.24
  (Mart. eEichler) Pierre
Tapiriraguianensis Aubl.          Cupuba             AS, L        0.21
Inga subnuda Salzm.                Inga              AL, L        0.17
  ex Benth.
Tabebuia roseoalba                 Ipe                 C          0.14
  (Ridl.) Sandwith
Ocotea notata                    Canela,             C, L         0.14
  (Nees e Mart.) Mez         Canela de velho,
                              Canela branca
Aspidosperma                  Pequea peroba          AL, C        0.1
  pyricollum Mull. Arg.
Ocotea lobi                      Canela,             C, L         0.1
  (Meisn.) Rohwer              Canela prego
Himatanthus bracteatus           Janauba              AS          0.07
  (A.DC.) Woodson
Andirafraxinfolia                Juerana               C          0.07
Cecropia pachystachya            Embauba             L, M         0.07
Spondias                           Caja               AL          0.03
  macrocarpa Engl.
Hirtella corymbosa            Suvaco de veia          AL          0.03
  Cham. & Schltdl.
Andira nitida Mart.           Angelim pedra            C          0.03
  ex Benth.
Swartzia apetala Raddi         Grao de galo            C          0.03
Vantanea bahiaensis           Coquim do mato          AL          0.03
Ouratea cuspidata                 Imbira               C          0.03
Pouteria caimito                 Graicica              C          0.03
  (Ruiz e Pav.) Radlk.

Table 4. Conservation priority index and priority categories of
woody species cited as useful by artisanal fishers, in two resting
vegetation formation in Itaunas, Espirito Santo, Brazil. CPI FF:
Conservation priority index of species on forest formation, CPI SF:
Conservation priority index of species on shrubby formation.

Species                   CPI FF   Category

Byrsonima sericea          100        1
Clusia hilariana           100        1
Emmotum nitens             97.5       1
Xylopia sericea            97.5       1
Schinus                     90        1
Inga subnuda               87.5       1
Pera glabrata               85        1
Pera leandri                85        1
Cecropia                    80        2
Andira nitida              77.5       2
Protium icicariba           70        2
Eschweilera ovata           70        2
Tabebuia roseoalba          70        2
Aspidosperma               67.5       2
Micropholis venulosa        65        2
Andirafraxinifolia          65        2
Swartzia                   62.5       2
  apetala Raddi
Protium heptaphyllum        55        3
Ocotea notata               55        3
Unonopsis aurantiaca       52.5       3
Ouratea cuspidata          47.5       3
Tapirira guianensis         45        3
Spondias macocarpa          40        3
Ocotea lobi                37.5       3
Himatanthus                 35        3
Pouteria caimito           32.5       3

Species                   CPI SF   Category

Byrsonima sericea           85        1
Anacardium occidental       85        1
Hancornia speciosa         77.5       2
Himatanthus bracteatus      65        2
Protium heptaphyllum        55        3
Protium icicariba           55        3
Clusia hilariana            55        3
Emmotum nitens             52.5       3
Ocotea notata               40        3
Andira nitida              32.5       3
Swartzia apetala           32.5       3
Ouratea cuspidata          32.5       3
Hirtella corymbosa          10        3
Vantanea bahiaensis         10        3
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Title Annotation:texto en ingles
Author:Lopes, Lucas Costa Monteiro; Crepaldi, Maria Otavia Silva; Lobao, Adriana Quintella
Publication:Acta Scientiarum. Biological Sciences (UEM)
Date:Apr 1, 2017
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