Department of Anthropology, Marlowe Building, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NS, UK.


This introduction to the volume argues for the central and integrating role of the subject matter of ethnobiological research in anthropology understood in its widest sense: in its biological, archaeo-historical, and socio-cultural dimensions. The background and current status of ethnobiology are assessed, and its contribution to anthropological issues considered under the following headings: the foundational paradigm of taxonomic orthodoxy; language and the translation of knowledge systems; cognition and culture; the social organization and transmission of knowledge; medical ethnobiology; the applied practice of ethnobiology; and – the meta-theory which binds all this together – the co-evolutionary paradigm as part of a wider ‘biocultural synthesis’. The way in which the collected papers exemplify these themes is discussed.