Quantitative ethnobotany analysis with ethnobotanyR

Cory Whitney

ethnobotanyR logo

Please remember to cite this package if you use it in your publications.

#> To cite package 'ethnobotanyR' in publications use:
#>   Whitney C (2022). _ethnobotanyR: Calculate Quantitative Ethnobotany
#>   Indices_. R package version 0.1.9,
#>   <https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=ethnobotanyR>.
#> A BibTeX entry for LaTeX users is
#>   @Manual{,
#>     title = {ethnobotanyR: Calculate Quantitative Ethnobotany Indices},
#>     author = {Cory Whitney},
#>     year = {2022},
#>     note = {R package version 0.1.9},
#>     url = {https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=ethnobotanyR},
#>   }

The ethnobotanyR package offers quantitative tools to assess the cultural significance of plant species based on informant consensus. The package closely follows two papers, one on cultural importance indices (Tardio and Pardo-de-Santayana 2008) and another on agrobiodiversity valuation (Whitney, Bahati, and Gebauer 2018). The goal is to provide an easy-to-use platform for ethnobotanists to perform quantitative ethnobotany assessments. Users are highly encouraged to familiarize themselves with ethnobotany theory (Albuquerque and Hurrell 2010) and social ecological theory (Albuquerque et al. 2019). An overview of this theoretical background will be helpful in understanding approaches in ethnobotany and formulating useful research questions.

The standard quantitative ethnobotany indices are probably too narrow a tool for a proper assessment of human and ecological interactions of interest. Still, they can be a useful entry way into understanding some aspects of human populations and how they interact with nature. The steps required to calculate these indices offer a way to quantify intangible factors of how human communities interact with the world. They can come in handy as additive pieces for more holistic assessments and analyses.

An example data set called ethnobotanydata is provided to show how standard ethnobotany data should be formatted to interface with the ethnobotanyR package. This is an ethnobotany data set including one column of 20 knowledge holder identifiers informant and one of 4 species names sp_name. The rest of the columns are the identified ethnobotany use categories. The data in the use categories is populated with counts of uses per person (should be 0 or 1 values). 1

Many of the functions in ethnobotanyR make use of select() and filter_all() functions of the dplyr package (Wickham et al. 2019) and pipe functions %>% from the magrittr package (Bache and Wickham 2014). These are easy to use and understand and allow users the chance to pull the code for these functions and change anything they see fit.

First six rows of the example ethnobotany data included with ethnobotanyR
informant sp_name Use_1 Use_2 Use_3 Use_4 Use_5 Use_6 Use_7 Use_8 Use_9 Use_10
inform_a sp_a 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0
inform_a sp_b 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
inform_a sp_c 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0
inform_a sp_d 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
inform_b sp_a 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0
inform_b sp_b 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0