Humans, Plants, and Networks

A Critical Review

in Environment and Society
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  • 1 Research fellow at IN3-UOC (Barcelona, Spain) lcalvetmir@gmail.com
  • 2 Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow at the Centre d’ Écologie Fonctionnelle et Évolutive matthieusalpeteur@hotmail.com
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ABSTRACT

In recent years, Social Network Analysis (SNA) has increasingly been applied to the study of complex human-plant relations. This quantitative approach has enabled a better understanding of (1) how social networks help explain agrobiodiversity management, and (2) how social relations influence the transmission of local ecological knowledge (LEK) related to plants. In this paper, we critically review the most recent works pertaining to these two lines of research. First, our results show that this fast-developing literature proposes new insights on local agrobiodiversity management mechanisms, as well as on the ways seed exchange systems are articulated around other social relationships, such as kinship. Second, current works show that inter-individual connections affect LEK transmission, the position of individuals in networks being related to the LEK they hold. We conclude by stressing the importance of combining this method with comprehensive approaches and longitudinal data collection to develop deeper insights into human-plant relations.

Contributor Notes

LAURA CALVET-MIR (PhD in Environmental Science) is a research fellow at IN3-UOC (Barcelona, Spain) and affiliated researcher at ICTA-UAB (Barcelona, Spain). Her research focuses on urban and rural agriculture, agroecological transitions and biocultural diversity. In studying local social-ecological systems, Dr. Calvet-Mir has combined ethnographic approaches with quantitative methods such as statistics and social network analyses. Her main research interests are agrobiodiversity, agroecology, ecosystem services, ethnoecology, political ecology, social network analysis, and traditional ecological knowledge.

MATTHIEU SALPETEUR (PhD in Anthropology) is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow at the Centre d’Écologie Fonctionnelle et Évolutive (CEFE, CNRS) and research associate at ICTA-UAB (Barcelona, Spain). His research focus on human-environment interactions, studied through different objects: the dynamics of LEK systems, the contemporary evolution of mobility patterns among nomadic pastoralists (India), the historical ecology of sacred groves (Cameroon). He uses methods ranging from comprehensive ethnographic surveys to quantitative tools, including social network analysis.

Environment and Society

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