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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - Journal of ethnobiology and ethnomedicine
Title Traditional climate knowledge: a case study in a peasant community of Tlaxcala, Mexico
Volume 12
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
URL https://ethnobiomed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13002-016-0105-z
Traditional climate knowledge is a comprehensive system of insights, experiences and practices used by peasant communities to deal with the uncertainties of climate conditions affecting their livelihood. This knowledge is today as relevant in the Mesoamerican and Andean regions as it is in Europe and Asia. Our research sought to analyze the traditional knowledge about the weather and climate in a rural village of the state of Tlaxcala, Mexico, and its importance in decision-making in agriculture.

Through 30 interviews and participant observation in the community during 2013, information was gathered about traditional climate and weather indicators and prediction tools, as well as rituals and agronomic and agroforestry strategies. This information allowed for the reconstruction of the community’s agro-festive calendar. Data analysis was carried out with the help of the qualitative analysis software Atlas.ti (version 7).

The socio-ecological importance of traditional knowledge about the climate lies in its ability to forecast local weather conditions and recognize climate variations, so vital to the food security of rural families. Knowledge about climate predictors is exchanged and passed on from generation to generation, contributing to the preservation and promotion of biodiversity. By observing the behavior of 16 animals and 12 plant species (both domestic and wild) as well as seven astronomical indicators, villagers are able to predict rain, dry weather and frosts. However, the continuity of this traditional knowledge in the community under study is now compromised by the little interest in agriculture characteristic of the younger generations, the ensuing abandonment of the countryside, the widespread economic crisis and the disappearance of animal and plant species.

Traditional climate knowledge includes the understanding of weather events and weather changes at different time scales (hours, days, weeks, and seasons). The ability to interpret weather events thanks to the accumulated knowledge about the climate through generations may prove today a relevant tool for improving agricultural practices and dealing with local and global socio-ecological changes.

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