published on Ambio 14 February 2018
One of the traditional livelihood practices of indigenous Tagbanuas in Palawan, Philippines is wild honey hunting and gathering from the giant honey bee (Apis dorsata F.). In order to analyze the linkages of the social and ecological systems involved in this indigenous practice, we conducted spatial, quantitative, and qualitative analyses on field data gathered through mapping of global positioning system coordinates, community surveys, and key informant interviews. We found that only 24% of the 251 local community members surveyed could correctly identify the giant honey bee. Inferential statistics showed that a lower level of formal education strongly correlates with correct identification of the giant honey bee. Spatial analysis revealed that mean NDVI of sampled nesting tree areas has dropped from 0.61 in the year 1988 to 0.41 in 2015. However, those who correctly identified the giant honey bee lived in areas with high vegetation cover. Decreasing vegetation cover limits the presence of wild honey bees and this may also be limiting direct experience of the community with wild honey bees. However, with causality yet to be established, we recommend conducting further studies to concretely model feedbacks between ecological changes and local knowledge.