Cultural Keystone Species

picture, by Rodrigo Camara-Leret

Nature is essential for life on Earth and many efforts are deployed to select the most effective biodiversity conservation strategies. However, these strategies often fail to incorporate considerations on species that matter to Indigenous Peoples and local communities. We aim to generate new knowledge on species of particular cultural importance for Indigenous Peoples and local communities around the world.  To that end, we have designed a survey that will help us identify Cultural Keystone Species (CKS, i.e., plant, animal, or fungal species of exceptional cultural significance to a specific ethnic or cultural group).

The survey is directed to researchers and practitioners with a depth understanding of the value of nature for a specific cultural group, as well as for representatives of Indigenous peoples or ethnic communities. Information collected through this survey will be the basis for scientific publications highlighting the global spread and contributions of CKS. Results will also be used to inform global biodiversity conservation strategies through policy briefs that emphasize the need to incorporate cultural considerations in biodiversity management strategies.

The survey, which collects anonymous non-personal data on CKS, will take between 5-15 minutes and can be found here:

The survey is open to all, and it is in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Bahasa and Russian. Please feel free to resend the link to other people who might be interested.

Victoria Reyes-García, Rodrigo Camara-Leret, Casey O’Hara, Delphine Renard, Noelia Zafra-Calvo, Benjamin Halpern, Sandra Díaz

Cultural Keystone Species subgroup Functional Interactions and Biodiversity Targets (FItBiTs) working group  National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS)