I am part of a multi-disciplinary study group based in Manaus, led by Dr. Charles Clement. In Amazonas, most human populations are located along the major and minor rivers, where they have modified and continue to modify their landscapes. These modifications were once considered to be small scale, when compared with the ones done nowadays, but still were intense enough that their footprints can still be seen in the forest today. The main difference between their uses of the forest and modern society’s uses is that pre-Colombian peoples rarely eliminated the forests as modern society generally does.
I work since 2006 with human and plant ecology, especially with use of natural resources such as fruits and other non-timber forest products.
I started my ethnobotany journey at Universidade Federal do Paraná (Curitiba, Brasil) when Dra. Raquel Negrelle showed me the other side of the coin when biologists work side by side, as partners, with people who live around/inside conservationist interest areas.
In my Master’s project with Dra. Natalia Hanazaki as my supervisor at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (Florianópolis, Brasil), I worked with ethnobotany and population structure of a useful palm tree fruit (Butia catarinensis Noblick & Lorenzi). During the study of relationships of the community with its natural resources, I realized how important these local communities are for the in situ and on farm conservation of genetic resources.
Then I moved to Manaus to work with Dr. Charles Clement, where my doctoral research proposal goes beyond ethnobotanical information and adds a molecular dimension in order to study the origin and genetic diversity of a fruit called biribá, Annona mucosa Jacq. (Annonaceae). My objectives are to find the area(s) of the origin of domestication of biribá and the routes of its dispersal by pre-Columbian peoples in Amazonia; to identify cultural practices of use and management that may have influenced this distribution; and to understand the cultural factors that explain how a plant that once was important enough to be selected and domesticated now has a reduced number of cultivated individuals.
Working with minor native crops, such as biribá, shows that family scale use of natural resources helps to increase and maintain biodiversity at the continental level, especially in the diverse ecosystems that we have in the Amazonian context.