M3 report

Posted: September 5th, 2013

M3 report






M3 report

The article “Cultural Keystone Species: Implications for Ecological Conservation and Restoration” written by Ann Garibaldi and Nancy Turner addresses the role that cultural keystone species have had on individuals, communities and nations. Cultural keystone species have had on the environment, the economy and culture. This paper also cites examples of cultural keystone species within British Columbia and their implications of the keystone concept for understanding the environmental and ecological changes. Different keystone species and their interrelations with the ecosystem form the crux of this article.

Cultural keystone species is a term that refers to certain species that play important roles in the structure of the ecosystem. Within human cultures, some plants and animals that form the foundations of any culture as is reflected in their place in the society’s food preference, materials and health. Apart from these aspects, these keystone species also feature in the traditions, norms and customs of native communities. The attachment that these keystone species have is always exploited by different organizations in large quantities for production. A key example of cultural keystone species is the western red-cedar tree that is indigenous to the Northwest communities of North America.

The human species all over the world have always identified themselves with different cultural species of plants and animals. The influence of particular species has always affected human lives in different depths: some have a superficial meaning that have little or no impact on their lives while others have a more direct significance in people’s lives. These species have developed importance in shaping how people identify themselves. However, all these species have one characteristic in common. They are all elements that are mostly depended upon, utilized most and applied regularly within the society. Examples of such cultural keystone species include fuel, food, medicine and clothing.

The major connection between ecological and cultural keystone species is that most of the species that have ecological relevance are also identified as cultural keystones. This connection lies in the definition of the influence that species put on its sphere. While ecological keystone species base their identity on the expected ecological influence of a species, cultural keystones are identified by their key function of defining cultural characteristics. Their difference however lies in the distinction that ecological keystones have in their importance to the earth systems. An example would be trees, mammals or flowers that may be excluded from the definition of ecological keystones would be readily accepted into one or more cultural groups as a cultural keystone.

Cultural keystone species have variances that are temporal, geographic and social in scale. These different variations are considered isolated by Garibaldi and Turner, but in reality, the dimensions are more of a transition than fixed instances. The temporal scale displays the way in which individuals replenish their cultural connections either on a short-term seasonal period or on a long-term that can reach up to several generations. Particular species like the tobacco plant have come to be associated with long-term ceremonies like marriages, births and funerals. This is typical of the Karuk community of California.

Other scales include the spatial scale that dictates that cultural keystone species are dependent on the context in which they are. Some cultural keystone species may be relevant in one setting but ineffectual in another. Certain species can only be found within a particular territory or a community. Social scales also influence the type of cultural keystone species that a particular community or individual had in history or in their childhood experiences. The Western red cedar is an excellent example of cultural keystone species that are native to the First Peoples of British Columbia.

The Ojibwe communities are a group of Native Americans that were located in the north of Mexico. Among the Ojibwe, the wild rice is cultural keystone species that have been under attack by different organizations and companies over the commercialization of the wild rice. These companies have had plans to apply genetic engineering in the farming of the wild rice in an attempt to introduce new rice strains. This endeavor did not go well with the Ojibwe community who relied on the wild rice as a source of income, as a source of food and this made rice an important part of their lifestyles. The lawsuits and struggles that ensued between these two parties displayed the importance of wild rice to the Ojibwe community.

The tussles over the control of the wild rice farming and marketing have brought to light the deep-seated connections between the Ojibwe and the plant. For this community, the wild rice holds significance over their ways of life. The tradition of depending upon rice has been passed from generation to generation with each passing era reinforcing the position that wild rice holds in their society. The attempt to seize their land on which the rice was planted was, therefore looked upon as a threat to their livelihoods, existence and traditions. The interference with the Ojibwe cultural keystone species had legal consequences for the invading firms.

The Hmong communities are of Asian origin that has remained conservative over the decades and their main cultural keystone is their traditional household gardens. The Hmong people have managed to keep their culture through their ancient farming techniques. This has encouraged them to maintaining their state of togetherness as a community. This cultural keystone has kept most of the Laotian immigrants together amid the developed communities in the United States. The Hmong have many festivals that were intended to display the different cultures and heritage of the Hmong people.

The Hmong people have a great dependence on land and agriculture as their main economic activity. The Hmong depend on rice paddy farming where they applied traditional methods of slash and burn to clear the land and till the rice. Some groups of Hmong people practiced irrigation farming. Agriculture was a major part of the Hmong community and this explained the reason why rice and opium formed the cultural keystone species among this community. The integration of their agricultural practices into their ceremonies, traditions and feasts for example the New Year is marked by the Hmong sharing their favorite dishes for the first three days of the year.

The Appalachian community has had Ginseng as their cultural keystone species for over decades. Ginseng has been used by the community particularly for medicinal and commercial purposes. It was therefore very important in the Appalachian community in that the whole process of farming and harvesting was done in the traditional methods. The Appalachian community has a deep connection with the Ginseng plant as it is used to treat a variety of medical complications. The growing of the Ginseng plant has been under a lot of secrecy among the community for many years.

The Appalachian community believes this was the best method of preserving the skills they possessed. The community has gone to great lengths in preserving their culture and traditions of Ginseng farming. They have introduced security measures like watchdogs, alarm systems and community policing in order to protect their farms. The Appalachian community has also pursued legal approaches in order to ensure their social security. Apart from agriculture, the Appalachian communities have had a close identification with craft making. This tradition includes the making of baskets, quilts, rugs, woodcarvings among other items

Expert paper writers are just a few clicks away

Place an order in 3 easy steps. Takes less than 5 mins.

Calculate the price of your order

You will get a personal manager and a discount.
We'll send you the first draft for approval by at
Total price: