Local ecological knowledge (LEK) generally refers to what people know about the particular environments in which they work or subsist that is acquired through observations and experience. Some of the interviews conducted for the Local Fisheries Knowledge Project will focus on LEK since fishermen acquire extensive knowledge about their local fishing grounds and the species they harvest.

A native Micronesian carves a paddle for his outrigger canoe. Photo by Dr. James McVey, NOAA Sea Grant.

Local ecological knowledge falls within the field of ethnoecology, which is the study of the environment from a cultural perspective. Ethnoecologists study local and traditional knowledge systems to learn directly from community members about particular topics, such as medicinal plants or resource management practices, and to learn how individuals and communities acquire this knowledge

    Clamming from a skiff in Cheasapeake Bay. Photo by L.C. Goldman


Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) is a similar term to local ecological knowledge but is most often used in relation to ecological knowledge possessed by indigenous or aboriginal people, such as Native Americans. Local ecological knowledge most often refers to ecological knowledge held by individuals or communities that are not aboriginal or indigenous. Some of the interviews conducted for this project might also focus on TEK.

An Eskimo hunter stands beside a recently shot caribou. 1949. Photo by Rear Admiral Harley D. Nygren, NOAA Corps.


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