Exploring the Interfaces between Ethnobiology and Ecotoxicology: A Novel Approach

  • Graziela Dias Blanco Department of Ecology and Zoology, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis
  • Natalia Hanazaki Department of Ecology and Zoology, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis
  • Suelen Beeck Cunha Department of Ecology and Zoology, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis
  • Marta Jussara Cremer Department of Biological Sciences, University of the Joinville Region, São Francisco do Sul
  • Mari Lucia Campos Department of Soils and Natural Resources, State University of Santa Catarina, Lages
Keywords: Food security, Heavy metals, Ethnoecology, Ecotoxicology, Local communities


In recent years, increases in urbanization and industrialization have led to an increase in contaminated areas, which directly affect traditional, indigenous, and local communities who use natural resources for food and medicine. We present a discussion about the use of food resources from areas contaminated with heavy metals and focus on two case studies in southern Brazil.  In the first case study, we interviewed 194 residents about the use of plants as food resources or medicine in areas adjacent to abandoned mines, and thus potentially contaminated with heavy metals. In the second case study, we interviewed 39 fishers about the consumption of fish resources from areas potentially contaminated by industrial activities. We also asked about their perceptions regarding contamination, changes in the landscape, and health problems that could be related to contamination. Although people are aware of contamination, consuming local plants and sea food has not stopped because some of these practices are directly linked to their cultural identity; additionally, there might be a lack of public recognition toward contamination. The combination of ethnoecological and ecotoxicological studies is necessary to assess environmental problems caused by heavy metals, as well as concerns about food security and the health of local communities.

Author Biographies

Graziela Dias Blanco, Department of Ecology and Zoology, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis

Graziela D. Blanco is a biologist and currently holds a doctorate in ecology from the Federal University of Santa Catarina, and is a member of the Human Ecology and Ethnobotany Laboratory, with interest in ethnoecology, ethnobotany, food safety, and ecotoxicology.

Natalia Hanazaki, Department of Ecology and Zoology, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis

Natalia Hanazaki is a professor in the Department of Ecology and Zoology at the Biological Sciences Center, Federal University of Santa Catarina, where she coordinates the Human Ecology and Ethnobotany Laboratory. She has research interests in human ecology, ethnoecology, ethnobiology, ethnobotany, and conservation.

Suelen Beeck Cunha, Department of Ecology and Zoology, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis

Suelen B. Cunha is a biologist and PhD student in ecology at the Federal University of Santa Catarina. She is a member of the Human Ecology and Ethnobotany Laboratory, with research interests in the areas of ethnoecology, cetacean food ecology, and environmental education.

Marta Jussara Cremer, Department of Biological Sciences, University of the Joinville Region, São Francisco do Sul

Marta J. Cremer holds a PhD in zoology and is currently a professor in the Postgraduate Program in Health and Environment at Univille and in the Graduate Program at the Federal University of Santa Catarina. Her research interests include animal ecology, environmental quality and health, conservation biology, and environmental public policies.

Mari Lucia Campos, Department of Soils and Natural Resources, State University of Santa Catarina, Lages

Mari L. Campos is an agronomist with a PhD in Soil Science, currently a professor at the University of Santa Catarina (UDESC) and the Postgraduate Course in Soil Science at UDESC. Her research interests include trace elements, pollution, soil chemistry, sorption, and recovery of degraded areas.


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How to Cite
Blanco, G. D., Hanazaki, N., Cunha, S. B., Cremer, M. J., & Campos, M. L. (2020). Exploring the Interfaces between Ethnobiology and Ecotoxicology: A Novel Approach. Ethnobiology Letters, 11(1), 29-37. https://doi.org/10.14237/ebl.11.1.2020.1493
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