Contributions of Indigenous Knowledge to ecological and evolutionary understanding




Jessen, Tyler D
Ban, Natalie C
XEMŦOLTW Claxton, Nicholas
Darimont, Chris T

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Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment


Indigenous Knowledge (IK) is the collective term to represent the many place-based knowledges accumulated across generations within myriad specific cultural contexts. Despite its millennia-long and continued application by Indigenous peoples to environmental management, non-Indigenous “Western” scientific research and management have only recently considered IK. We use detailed and diverse examples to highlight how IK is increasingly incorporated in research programs, enhancing understanding of – and contributing novel insight into – ecology and evolution, as well as physiology and applied ecology (that is, management). The varied contributions of IK stem from long periods of observation, interaction, and experimentation with species, ecosystems, and ecosystem processes. Despite commonalities between IK and science, we outline the ethical duty required by scientists when working with IK holders. Given past and present injustice, respecting self-determination of Indigenous peoples is a necessary condition to support mutually beneficial research processes and outcomes.


We thank the many individuals and communities who have helped shape our knowledge. Their wisdom, generosity, and patience form the bedrock of our collaborative research programs. We thank J Burgess for graphic design as well as M Campbell of the Haíɫzaqv Nation for his permission to use the bear–salmon art we commissioned.


Indigenous Knowledge, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Indigenous Ecological Knowledge


Jessen, T.D., Ban, N.C., XEMŦOLTW Claxton, N., & Darimont, C.T. (2021). Contributions of Indigenous Knowledge to ecological and evolutionary understanding. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 20(2),