The ubiquity and consequences of childhood growth stunting (<-2 SD in height-for-age Z score, HAZ) in rural areas of low-income nations has galvanized research into the reversibility of stunting, but the shortage of panel data has hindered progress. Using panel data from a native Amazonian society of foragers-farmers in Bolivia (Tsimane'), we estimate rates of catch-up growth for stunted children. One hundred forty-six girls and 158 boys 2 < or = age < or = 7 were measured annually during 2002-2006. Annual Delta height in cm and in HAZ were regressed separately against baseline stunting and control variables related to attributes of the child, mother, household, and village. Children stunted at baseline had catch-up growth rates 0.11 SD/year higher than their nonstunted age and sex peers, with a higher rate among children farther from towns. The rate of catch up did not differ by the child's sex. A 10% rise in household income and an additional younger sibling lowered by 0.16 SD/year and 0.53 SD/year the rate of growth. Results were weaker when measuring Delta height in cm rather than in HAZ. Possible reasons for catch-up growth include (a) omitted variable bias, (b) parental reallocation of resources to redress growth faltering, particularly if parents perceive the benefits of redressing growth faltering for child school achievement, and (c) developmental plasticity during this period when growth rates are most rapid and linear growth trajectories have not yet canalized.
In the past 15 years, improvements in the treatment of HIV infection have dramatically reduced morbidity and mortality. Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors are the backbone of combination antiretroviral therapy for the treatment of HIV. One of the recommended and commonly used therapies in this class is the once-daily fixed-dose combination of abacavir/lamivudine. Clinical studies and practice have shown these drugs to be potent, safe, and easy to use in a variety of settings; however, several recent reports have challenged the safety and efficacy claims among certain patient populations, including those at risk for cardiovascular disease and in those with high viral loads prior to treatment initiation. We reviewed abacavir/lamivudine as a treatment for HIV and discussed limitations of its use due to these controversial issues.
Present evidence suggests that modern humans were the first hominid species to successfully colonize high-latitude environments (> or =55 degrees N). Given evidence for a recent (<200,000 years) lower latitude naissance of modern humans, the global dispersal and successful settlement of arctic and subarctic regions represent an unprecedented adaptive shift. This adaptive shift, which included cultural, behavioral, and biological dimensions, allowed human populations to cope with the myriad environmental stressors encountered in circumpolar regions. Although unique morphological and physiological adaptations among contemporary northern residents have been recognized for decades, human biologists are only now beginning to consider whether biological adaptations to regional environmental conditions influence health changes associated with economic modernization and lifestyle change. Recent studies have documented basal metabolic rates (BMRs) among indigenous Siberian populations that are systematically elevated compared to lower latitude groups; this metabolic elevation apparently is a physiological adaptation to cold stress experienced in the circumpolar environment. Important health implications of metabolic adaptation are suggested by research with the Yakut (Sakha), Evenki, and Buriat of Siberia. BMR is significantly positively correlated with blood pressure, independently of body size, body composition, and various potentially confounding variables (e.g., age and smoking). Further, this research has documented a significant negative association between BMR and LDL cholesterol, which remains after controlling for potential confounders; this suggests that high metabolic turnover among indigenous Siberians has a protective effect with regard to plasma lipid levels. These results underscore the importance of incorporating an evolutionary approach into health research among northern populations.
C-reactive protein (CRP) is an inflammatory marker, which at low-level elevations is associated with increased cardiovascular risk. Although CRP has been extensively investigated in North American and European settings, few studies have measured CRP among non-Western groups. The present study used dried whole blood spot samples to examine high-sensitivity CRP concentrations among the Yakut (Sakha) of Siberia (85 females, 56 males; 18-58 years old). Our goals were: (1) to compare Yakut CRP concentrations with other populations; (2) to investigate sex differences; and (3) to explore anthropometric correlates of CRP. Results indicate that serum equivalent CRP concentrations are similar to those from industrializing nations, lower than US and European values, and greater than Japanese concentrations. Yakut men and women display similar CRP concentrations; however, CRP was significantly higher among men after adjustment for body fat, age, and smoking. Positive associations were documented between CRP and BMI, body fat, and central adiposity.
AIM: The study analysed variability in physical stature, weight, and body mass index (BMI) in the USA during 1971-2002.
SUBJECTS: Subjects were non-Hispanic Blacks and Whites, 2-74 years of age from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES I-III and 1999-2002).
METHODS: The coefficient of variation and the standard deviation of the logarithm of stature, weight, and BMI were used to assess anthropometric variability for groups defined by age, race, sex, income, and survey year. Weighted ordinary least squares regressions were used to estimate the effect of socio-economic variables on anthropometric variability.
RESULTS: (a) The relation between age and variability in weight or BMI resembles an inverted U, (b) men have lower variability in BMI than women, (c) Blacks and the poor have greater variability in weight and BMI than Whites or than the non-poor, and (d) variability in anthropometric indices increased during 1971-2002. Results were robust to the measure of variability used and to the use of the mean and mean square of the anthropometric indicators as explanatory variables.
CONCLUSION: Since anthropometric indices correlate reliably with canonical indicators of well-being (e.g. income), growing variability in anthropometric indices, particularly among the Blacks and the poor, signals growing inequality in quality of life--a worrisome trend.
: Scientists have isolated 2 potent human antibodies that can stop more than 90% of known global HIV strains from infecting human cells in the laboratory. The finding may help researchers design more effective HIV vaccines. It may also help advance other strategies for preventing or treating HIV infection.
Most vaccines work by triggering the immune system to produce antibodies that help beat back infections. This strategy hasn't been successful in defeating HIV. Proteins on the surface of HIV mutate rapidly and change shape continuously, preventing most antibodies from latching onto and neutralizing the virus.
Researchers have recently found antibodies that can neutralize multiple strains of HIV-1, the virus responsible for the HIV/AIDS pandemic. These antibodies bind to a specific, virtually unchanging region on HIV’s surface spikes—the structures that help the virus attach to and infect immune cells. Much attention has focused on a surface spike protein called gp120, which fastens onto the CD4 binding site on the surface of immune cells.
BACKGROUND: Amdoxovir acts synergistically with zidovudine in vitro and the combination prevents or delays the selection of thymidine analogue and K65R mutations. In silico studies have shown that a reduced dose of zidovudine (200 mg) results in decreased zidovudine-monophosphate levels, associated with toxicity, while maintaining zidovudine-triphosphate levels, which are associated with antiviral effects. Here, we aimed to assess the short-term tolerability and antiviral activity of amdoxovir in combination with reduced and standard doses of zidovudine.
METHODS: The study was a double-blind, placebo-controlled study in HIV-1-infected patients not receiving antiretroviral therapy and with plasma HIV-1 RNA > or =5,000 copies/ml. Patients were randomized to 10 days of twice-daily treatment with 200 mg zidovudine, 300 mg zidovudine, 500 mg amdoxovir, 500 mg amdoxovir plus 200 mg zidovudine or 500 mg amdoxovir plus 300 mg zidovudine. The mean change in viral load (VL) log(10) and area under the virus depletion curve (AUC(VL)) from baseline to day 10 were determined. Laboratory and clinical safety monitoring were performed.
RESULTS: Twenty-four patients were enrolled. The mean VL log(10) change was 0.10 with placebo, -0.69 with zidovudine 200 mg, -0.55 with zidovudine 300 mg, -1.09 with amdoxovir, -2.00 with amdoxovir plus zidovudine (200 mg) and -1.69 with amdoxovir plus zidovudine (300 mg). Amdoxovir plus zidovudine (200 mg) was significantly more potent than amdoxovir monotherapy in AUC(VL) and mean VL decline (P=0.019 and P=0.021, respectively), suggesting synergy. There was markedly decreased VL variability with the combination compared with amdoxovir alone. All adverse events were mild to moderate. Conclusion: The combination of amdoxovir plus zidovudine appeared synergistic with reduced VL variability. This combined therapy, including the use of a lower zidovudine dosage, warrants further development for the therapy of HIV infection.
Human indigenous circumpolar populations have elevated basal metabolic rates (BMRs) relative to predicted values; this metabolic elevation has been postulated to be a physiological adaptation to chronic and severe cold stress. The present study examines BMR in the Yakut, an indigenous high-latitude population from the Sakha Republic of Russia to determine (1) whether the Yakut show evidence of an elevated BMR, (2) if the Yakut display evidence of age-related changes in BMR, and (3) whether lifestyle differences influence BMR. BMR was measured during the late summer in 75 women and 50 men (ages 18-56 years) from the Siberian village of Berdygestiakh. Measured BMR (+/- SEM) of the entire sample was significantly elevated (+6.5%) compared to predictions based on body mass (6,623.7 +/- 94.9 vs. 6,218.2 +/- 84.7 kJ/day; P < 0.001). Additionally, measured BMR for the entire sample was significantly higher than predictions based on fat-free mass (+20.8%) and surface area (+8.9%). Males and females both showed significant elevations relative to all three standards. The elevated BMR of the Yakut does not appear to be attributable to extreme levels of protein, since the Yakut consume a mixed diet with a substantial proportion of carbohydrates. No significant age-related changes in BMR were found when controlled for body composition. No significant relationship was found between lifestyle variables and BMR, suggesting the possibility of a genetic or developmental mechanism. This study provides additional evidence of metabolic elevation in indigenous circumpolar groups and has important implications for estimating the nutritional requirements of these populations.
Researchers have shown interest in the relation between (a) social capital and individual income and (b) the individual health of people of industrial nations. The socioeconomic complexity of industrial nations makes it difficult to arrive at firm conclusions. We circumvent the obstacle by using data from a small-scale rural society of foragers-farmers in the Bolivian Amazon (Tsimane'). We examine the interactions between the outcome (BMI) and relative income, relative social capital, village income, and village social capital. We test three hypotheses: people in villages with more social capital should have higher BMI, the positive association between social capital and BMI will be more marked among the less well-off, and better-off people who display generosity will have higher BMI than better-off people who do not. On the methodological side we show the importance of: focusing on relative measures of income and social capital, estimating interaction between community and relative measures of income and social capital, and showing results through contour plots that summarize the relation between BMI and pairs of explanatory variables. On the substantive side we find evidence that village social capital and village income complement each other and are associated with higher BMI, the rich who are stingy have lower BMI than the rich who display generosity, and increase in village income might reduce individual incentives to invest in social capital. We explore interactions between explanatory variables and their influence on BMI, and end by recommending the use of an experimental research design to obtain unbiased estimates of causal effects.
OBJECTIVE: Protease inhibitors and other antiretroviral drugs have been associated with dyslipidemia, endothelial dysfunction, and increased cardiovascular disease risk. The protease inhibitor atazanavir has an advantageous lipid profile; we studied its effects on arterial function and other metabolic and inflammatory cardiovascular disease risk factors.
DESIGN: Prospective, randomized, multinational trial in HIV-infected patients receiving stable protease inhibitor-based therapy with plasma HIV RNA less than 500 copies/ml and fasting low-density lipoprotein cholesterol more than 130 mg/dl, or triglycerides more than 200 mg/dl.
METHODS: Patients were randomized to continue their current protease inhibitor or switch the protease inhibitor to atazanavir and continue ritonavir if given as a protease inhibitor booster for 24 weeks. Brachial artery flow-mediated dilation, lipoproteins, and inflammatory and metabolic markers were measured at baseline, week 12, and week 24. Median changes within (signed rank test) and between (Wilcoxon test) arms were calculated.
RESULTS: Twenty-six patients switched to atazanavir (all continued on ritonavir); 24 remained on their protease inhibitor regimen. Median CD4 cell count was 499 cells/mul, total cholesterol 204 mg/dl, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol 122 mg/dl, and triglycerides 244 mg/dl. There were no significant changes in flow-mediated dilation after 12 and 24 weeks. At 24 weeks, significant changes in the atazanavir vs. continued protease inhibitor group were observed for total cholesterol (-25 vs. +1.5 mg/dl, P = 0.009), triglycerides (-58 vs. +3.5 mg/dl, P = 0.013), and nonhigh-density lipoprotein cholesterol (-27 vs. -0.5 mg/dl, P = 0.014).
CONCLUSION: In dyslipidemic individuals with suppressed HIV RNA on stable therapy, changing the protease inhibitor to atazanavir/ritonavir for 24 weeks improved lipids; however, endothelial function, inflammatory, and metabolic markers did not change.
This article examines evidence for elevations in basal metabolic rate (BMR) among indigenous Northern (circumpolar) populations and considers potential mechanisms and the adaptive basis for such elevations. Data on BMR among indigenous (n = 109 males; 122 females) and nonindigenous (n = 15 males; 22 females) circumpolar groups of North America and Siberia are compiled and compared to predicted BMRs based on three different references: body surface area (Consolazio et al., 1963), body mass (Schofield, 1985), and fat-free mass (Poehlman and Toth, 1995). Regardless of which reference is used, indigenous circumpolar groups show systematic and statistically significant elevations in BMR ranging from +7% to +19% above predicted values for indigenous men and from +3 to +17% for indigenous women. Nonindigenous males also show elevations in BMR, although not to the same extent as in indigenous men (deviations = +3 to +14%), whereas nonindigenous females show no clear evidence of elevated BMRs (deviations = -7 to +5%). This pattern of variation between indigenous and nonindigenous groups suggests that both functional and genetic factors play a role in metabolic adaptation to northern climes. Recent studies on the ecology and genetics of thyroid function offer insights into the mechanisms through which indigenous circumpolar populations may regulate metabolic rates. Studies of seasonal variation in thyroid hormone levels suggest that indigenous circumpolar populations may have a greater capacity to elevate BMR during severe cold than nonindigenous groups. Recent twin studies indicate a significant genetic component of thyroid responses to environmental stressors. Further research exploring the genetics of seasonal variation in thyroid function and BMR among circumpolar groups would advance understanding of the role that selection may have played in shaping metabolic variation.
INTRODUCTION: The HIV-1 epidemic in African countries is largely due to non-B HIV-1 subtypes. Patterns and frequency of antiretroviral drug resistance mutations observed in these countries may differ from those in the developed world, where HIV-1 subtype B predominates.
METHODS: HIV-1 subtype and drug resistance mutations were assayed among Nigerian patients with treatment failure on first-line therapy (plasma HIV RNA >1000 copies/mL). Sequence analysis of the reverse transcriptase and protease gene revealed drug resistance mutations and HIV-1 viral subtype. Specific patterns of mutations and clinical characteristics are described in patients with the K65R mutation.
RESULTS: Since 2005, 338 patients were evaluated. The most prevalent subtypes were CRF02_AG [152 of 338 (44.9%)] and G [128 of 338 (37.9%)]. Three hundred seven of 338 (90.8%) patients had previously received stavudine and/or zidovudine + lamivudine + efavirenz or nevirapine; 41 of 338 (12.1%) had received tenofovir (TDF). The most common nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor mutations observed were M184V (301, 89.1%) and K70R (91, 26.9%). The K65R mutation was present in 37 of 338 patients (10.9%). The Q151M (P < 0.05), K219R, and T69del (P < 0.01) mutations were more common in patients with K65R who had not received TDF.
CONCLUSIONS: The K65R mutation is increasingly recognized and is a challenging finding among patients with non-B HIV subtypes, whether or not they have been exposed to TDF.
The Yakuts are a Turkic-speaking population from northeastern Siberia who are believed to have originated from ancient Turkic populations in South Siberia, based on archaeological and ethnohistorical evidence. In order to better understand Yakut origins, we modeled 25 demographic scenarios and tested by coalescent simulation whether any are consistent with the patterns of mtDNA diversity observed in present-day Yakuts. The models consist of either two simulated demes that represent Yakuts and a South Siberian ancestral population, or three demes that also include a regional Northeast Siberian population that served as a source of local gene flow into the Yakut deme. The model that produced the best fit to the observed data defined a founder group with an effective female population size of only 150 individuals that migrated northwards approximately 1,000 years BP and who experienced significant admixture with neighboring populations in Northeastern Siberia. These simulation results indicate a pronounced founder effect that was primarily kin-structured and reconcile reported discrepancies between Yakut mtDNA and Y chromosome diversity levels.
Over the span of his career, A. Roberto Frisancho has been one of the prime architects of the development and expansion of human population biology. His research and scholarly publications have helped to move the field beyond simple descriptions of human variation to address the nature and evolutionary origins of human biological diversity. Frisancho's early work in the Peruvian Andes elegantly demonstrated the importance of developmental acclimatization for promoting adaptive responses to the multiple stressors of high-altitude environments. Since mid-1970s, he has played a major role in developing and expanding the use of anthropometric techniques for assessing physical growth and nutritional status. Frisancho's influential publications have helped to make the use of anthropometric methods commonplace in the fields of nutritional science and public health. Throughout his career, Frisancho's work has examined how environmental, genetic, and developmental factors interact to influence human health and nutritional status. His research has addressed topics ranging from the determinants of low-birth weight infants in teenage mothers to the origins of obesity and associated metabolic diseases in populations of the developing world. Both the breadth and impact of Frisancho's work have been truly remarkable. The field of human population biology owes much to the tremendous contributions of A. Roberto Frisancho.
Researchers have hypothesized that the degree to which an individual's actual behavior approximates the culturally valued lifestyle encoded in the dominant cultural model has consequences for physical and mental health. We contribute to this line of research by analyzing data from a longitudinal study composed of five annual surveys (2002-2006 inclusive) of 791 adults in one society of foragers-farmers in the Bolivian Amazon, the Tsimane'. We estimate the association between a standard measure of individual achievement of the cultural model and (a) four indicators of psychological well-being (sadness, anger, fear and happiness) and (b) consumption of four potentially addictive substances (alcohol, cigarette, coca leaves and home-brewed beer) as indicators of stress behavior. After controlling for individual fixed effects, we found a negative association between individual achievement of the cultural model and psychological distress and a positive association between individual achievement of the cultural model and psychological well-being. Only the consumption of commercial alcohol bears the expected negative association with cultural consonance in material lifestyle, probably because the other substances analyzed have cultural values attached. Our work contributes to research on psychological health disparities by showing that a locally defined and culturally specific measure of lifestyle success is associated with psychological health.
Leptin is thought to signal energy stores, thus helping the body balance energy intake and expenditure. However, the strong relationship between leptin and adiposity in populations with adequate nutrition or common obesity is not universal across ecologic contexts, and leptin often correlates only weakly, or not at all, with adiposity in populations of lean or marginally-nourished males. To clarify whether the relationship between adiposity and leptin changes during development, this study examines leptin and body fat among children and adolescents of lowland Bolivia. Anthropometric measures of body composition and dried blood spot samples were collected from 487 Tsimane' ranging from 2 to 15 years of age. Leptin was assayed using an enzyme immunoassay protocol validated for use with blood spot samples. In this population, leptin concentrations were among the lowest reported in a human population (mean +/- SD: 1.26 +/- 0.5 and 0.57 +/- 0.3 in females and males). In addition, the relationship between leptin and adiposity follows distinct developmental trajectories in males and females. In males, leptin is weakly correlated with most measures of body composition at all ages investigated. However, in females, the level of body fat and the strength of the correlation between body fat and leptin (a measure of its strength as a signal of energy stores) both increase markedly with age. These findings suggest a more important role of leptin as a signal of energy stores among females as they approach reproductive maturity, while raising questions about the function of this hormone in lean males.
Understanding the pathogenesis of obesity is now more important than ever, given the remarkable world-wide epidemic. This paper explores the potential role of core temperature in energy balance, and develops the hypothesis that basal temperature and changes in the temperature response in various situations contribute to the enhanced metabolic efficiency of the obese state. The argument is based on the important contribution that heat production makes in establishing the basal or resting metabolic rate, as well as on an analysis of the adaptive role played by changes in temperature in response to environmental challenge. If this hypothesis is validated, new therapeutic approaches may ensue.
Researchers have found a positive association between income inequality and poor individual health. To explain the link, researchers have hypothesized that income inequality erodes community social capital, which unleashes negative emotions, stress, and stress behaviors that hurt health. Few studies have tested the hypothesized path. Here we estimate the association between (a) village income inequality and social capital, and (b) three distinct negative emotions (anger, fear, sadness) and one stress behavior (alcohol consumption). We use four quarters of panel data (2002-2003) from 655 adults in 13 villages of a foraging-farming society in the Bolivian Amazon (Tsimane'). We found that: (1) village income inequality was associated with more negative emotions but with less alcohol consumption, (2) social capital always bore a negative association with outcomes, and (3) results held up after introducing many changes to the main model. We conclude that village income inequality probably affects negative emotions and stress behaviors through other paths besides social capital because we conditioned for social capital. One such path is an innate dislike of inequality, which might have pre-human origins. Our prior research with the Tsimane' suggests that village income inequality bore an insignificant association with individual health. Therefore, village income inequality probably affects negative emotions and stress behaviors before undermining health.
We present a model of dynamic resource allocation in a setting where continuity of service is important and future resource availability is uncertain. The paper is inspired by the challenges faced by HIV clinics in resource-limited settings in the allocation of scarce HIV treatment among a large pool of eligible patients. Many clinics receive insufficient supply to treat all patients and the supply they do receive is highly uncertain. This supply uncertainty, combined with the clinical importance of an uninterrupted treatment throughout patients’ life, requires the clinics to make a trade-off between providing access to treatment for new patients and ensuring continuity of treatment for current patients. Setting aside other aspects of the treatment rationing problem, we model the decisions of a clinic facing this trade-off using stochastic dynamic programming. We derive sufficient conditions under which the optimal policy coincides with the clinically preferred policy of prioritizing previously enrolled patients. We use numerical examples to investigate the impact of supply uncertainty on the performance of enrollment policies used in practice. We also discuss how our model applies to other intertemporal resource allocation decisions such as that faced by non-profit organizations where continuity of service is crucial to meeting the organization’s social objective, or that faced by an entrepreneur who wants to attract new customers without reducing service quality to existing customers.
The evolution of large human brain size has had important implications for the nutritional biology of our species. Large brains are energetically expensive, and humans expend a larger proportion of their energy budget on brain metabolism than other primates. The high costs of large human brains are supported, in part, by our energy- and nutrient-rich diets. Among primates, relative brain size is positively correlated with dietary quality, and humans fall at the positive end of this relationship. Consistent with an adaptation to a high-quality diet, humans have relatively small gastrointestinal tracts. In addition, humans are relatively "undermuscled" and "over fat" compared with other primates, features that help to offset the high energy demands of our brains. Paleontological evidence indicates that rapid brain evolution occurred with the emergence of Homo erectus 1.8 million years ago and was associated with important changes in diet, body size, and foraging behavior.
Culture is a critical determinant of human behavior and health, and the intergenerational transmission of knowledge regarding the use of available plant resources has historically been an essential function of culture. Local ethnobotanical knowledge is important for health and nutrition, particularly in rural low-resource settings, but cultural and economic transitions associated with globalization threaten such knowledge. This prospective study investigates the association between parental ethnobotanical knowledge and child health among the Tsimane', a horticulturalist and foraging society in Amazonian Bolivia. Anthropometric data and capillary blood samples were collected from 330 Tsimane' 2- to 10-year-olds, and mothers and fathers were interviewed to assess ethnobotanical knowledge and skills. Comprehensive measures of parental schooling, acculturation, and economic activities were also collected. Dependent variables included three measures of child health: (i) C-reactive protein, assayed in whole-blood spots as an indicator of immunostimulation; (ii) skinfold thickness, to estimate subcutaneous fat stores necessary to fuel growth and immune function; and (iii) height-for-age, to assess growth stunting. Each child health measure was associated with maternal ethnobotanical knowledge, independent of a wide range of potentially confounding variables. Each standard deviation of maternal ethnobotanical knowledge increased the likelihood of good child health by a factor of >1.5. Like many populations around the world, the Tsimane' are increasingly facing the challenges and opportunities of globalization. These results underscore the importance of local cultural factors to child health and document a potential cost if ethnobotanical knowledge is lost.
Indigenous peoples are often considered potential allies in the conservation of biological diversity. Here we assess whether ethnobotanical skills of indigenous people contribute to a reduction in the clearance of tropical rain forest. We measured ethnobotanical skills of male household heads and area of rain forest cleared for agriculture among 128 households of Tsimane', a native Amazonian group in Bolivia. We used multivariate regressions to estimate the relation between ethnobotanical skills and area of rain forest cleared while controlling for schooling, health status, number of plots cleared, adults in household, and village of residency. We found that when the ethnobotanical skills of the male household head were doubled, the amount of tropical rain forest cleared per household was reduced by 25%. The association was stronger when the area of old-growth forest cleared was used as the dependent variable than when the area cleared from fallow forest was used as the dependent variable. People who use the forest for subsistence might place a higher value on standing forest than people who do not use it, and thus they may be more reluctant to cut down the forest.
BACKGROUND: New quantitative methods to collect and analyze data have produced novel findings in ethnobiology. A common application of quantitative methods in ethnobiology is to assess the traditional ecological knowledge of individuals. Few studies have addressed reliability of indices of traditional ecological knowledge constructed with different quantitative methods.
METHODS: We assessed the associations among eight indices of traditional ecological knowledge from data collected from 650 native Amazonians. We computed Spearman correlations, Chronbach's alpha, and principal components factor analysis for the eight indices.
RESULTS: We found that indices derived from different raw data were weakly correlated (rho<0.5), whereas indices derived from the same raw data were highly correlated (rho>0.5; p < 0.001). We also found a relatively high internal consistency across data from the eight indices (Chronbach's alpha = 0.78). Last, results from a principal components factor analysis of the eight indices suggest that the eight indices were positively related, although the association was low when considering only the first factor.
CONCLUSION: A possible explanation for the relatively low correlation between indices derived from different raw data, but relatively high internal consistency of the eight indices is that the methods capture different aspects of an individual's traditional ecological knowledge. To develop a reliable measure of traditional ecological knowledge, researchers should collect raw data using a variety of methods and then generate an aggregated measure that contains data from the various components of traditional ecological knowledge. Failure to do this will hinder cross-cultural comparisons.