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This weakness is particularly worrying in developed countries, where much more industrial medicine is available and easy to use. Ethnobotanical studies focused on medicinal and on food plants have been previously published from the two Catalan regions considered [ 37 — 39 ] and references therein , but only very scarce ethnobotanical information is available from the islands of Mallorca and Formentera [ 40 , 41 ] and references therein , and ethnoveterinary medicine has not been addressed at all, to date, in any of those territories.
Consequent with this situation, the aims of the present work are 1 to inventory plant ethnoveterinary resources in several Catalan and Balearic regions in order to compare the data obtained in insular and continental territories; 2 to evaluate the degree of coincidence of veterinary and human medicinal plant uses in the zones considered; 3 to assess consensus and reliability of these uses and so the vitality of complementary and alternative medicinal practices and their real incidence in the healthcare system.
The territories studied are located in southwestern Europe Figure 1 and grouped in two close but distinct geographical areas as follows. All these territories share political administration Spanish and language Catalan and have a common ethnographic and cultural background, with the logical regional nuances. Location of the studied areas in Europe and in the Catalan linguistic area. The most well-known and deep-rooted meteorological phenomenon is a northwesterly wind called the tramuntana , responsible for some natural effects, such as some wind-adapted vegetation forms and the desiccation of crops.
The district contains an uneven distribution of distinct biogeographical regions—two predominantly Mediterranean ones and also the Eurosiberian in certain mountainous areas [ 43 ]. Economically, this area has evolved from an initial agriculture and livestock raising and subsequent industrial forestry exploitation especially cork to the more recent tourism and real-estate boom, stronger on the seaside Costa Brava.
The predominant vegetation belts are the alpine and subalpine [ 43 , 44 ].
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This valley is inhabited by 4, people municipal census, , distributed in 18 population centres belonging to six municipalities. Some of them have suffered an important population decrease, although in recent years houses have been gradually reoccupied as second residences. Agriculture is not very relevant, given its climatic conditions and uneven territory, but many farms and houses within the villages have their own homegardens for private consumption.
Formentera is the smallest of the four inhabited Balearic Islands.
The main vegetation landscape on this island is the coastal Mediterranean one [ 43 ]. Agriculture, timber exploitation, fishing, and salt production have been relevant activities on the island, but nowadays tourism is the most important economic activity. Plant landscapes are basically limited to those of the Mediterranean biogeographic region with a particular relevance of coastal communities [ 47 ]. The three municipalities currently share their main reliance on tourism, having left aside the primary sector of agriculture and livestock, which used to be the main activities throughout their history.
Currently the percentage of active people engaged in this economic sector data from [ 45 , 48 ] is only 1. The information was obtained from people either born and almost permanently located in each concerned territory or having lived there most of their life. The informants' selection has been basically done on a snowball basis, mostly starting with people known by the authors or by some authors' friends or relatives. All the authors of the present paper have been born in and live in or have links and frequent contacts with one of the studied territories, which facilitated the approach to the informants.
A special emphasis has been made in contacting older people, since we supposed them to possess a higher amount of traditional knowledge due to the years of experience and the possibility of remembering pretouristic times, although young people have also been taken into account. In FO, 12 interviews were performed with 14 informants The conversations were recorded, and pictures were taken during their development, all this with the permission of the informants. We did not use a closed questionnaire and avoided as much as possible asking direct questions, so as not to coerce the interviewees and so diminish their spontaneity.
We used a combination of what the ethnographers call nonstructured or nondirected interview and the model termed as structured, direct, or focused interview [ 49 ], the latter called semistructured in most ethnobiological literature [ 50 ]. In some cases we also practised what the above-cited authors termed group interview, but those with only one informant constituted the majority.
Since, as already stated, the authors live in or go frequently to the study areas, participant observation [ 50 , 51 ] has also been conducted in a large number of cases. Most times more than one conversation with an informant was performed. During the interviews we asked the informants, in addition to their providing data on plant knowledge, to tell us how, when, and where they collected the plants, how they kept them, and how they prepared them for use.
One of the principal points in our interviews being medicinal plants, an effort has been made to steer the conversation not only towards comments relevant to human medicine but also touching the health and treatment of domestic animals.
So, we asked the informants about plants traditionally used in the area for treating animal illnesses. Plant materials of all taxa mentioned were collected according to the advice and recommendations of the informants and, whenever possible, together with them. For foreign or cultivated species determination we followed [ 54 , 55 ]. Data collected were introduced and analysed using a database we had designed [ 56 ] to ensure an organized pool of the gathered information from interviews. This permitted the standardisation of data entry and further analysis.
This database has been designed as an open source interface, a constantly growing platform for ethnobotanical data collected within Catalan-speaking territories. Technical characteristics of the database are a MySQL server, read on php format and data exported as csv. With comparison intentions, we made an analysis of the coincidences and the degree of novelty between our own data and data from bibliography on ethnoveterinary plant uses in different areas see the literature quoted in the introduction, especially [ 27 ], which constitutes a checklist of world ethnoveterinary plants.
Also, the Jaccard's similarity index [ 60 ] has been calculated from the matrix of all use reports for the four areas using R software [ 61 ], and its visualisation has been designed as a PCA principal component analysis plot. This plot is complementary to a 4-term Venn diagram [ 62 ] that compares the number of plant species shared one-to-one and by groups among studied territories.
Descriptive statistics including rank, mean, and standard deviation, among other parameters have been calculated for all the studied variables. In the Catalan and Balearic areas studied, 97 plant species taxa to the levels of subspecies and variety; 49 in AE, 49 in AT, 11 in FO, 17 in MA have been claimed to be useful for veterinary purposes. Table 1 presents the plants recorded, grouped in alphabetical order of genera, with indication of scientific and local Catalan names, herbarium voucher number, botanical family, part used, pharmaceutical form, administration way, and veterinary and human uses.
Table 2 summarizes numerical information on the informants and the territories studied, the plants used, reports, local names, families and related data, and some quantitative ethnobotany indexes calculated for these plant uses in the areas prospected. Plants with veterinary medicinal uses claimed in the areas studied. General data on the territories studied, data concerning ethnoveterinary and related aspects, and ethnobotanical indexes. Vigo pers. This paper being specifically devoted to medicinal uses, we did not consider all feed plants as having an ethnoveterinary application.
Anyway they, too, contribute to animal health, and in many cases the informants attribute them with medicinal properties complementary to the nutritional effect. These plants fit within the category of folk functional foods, proposed by Rigat et al. As Pearson [ 15 ] remarked, there is a frequent possible confusion between feed and drug in ethnoveterinary. The number of veterinary plant taxa is intermediate between those recorded in the two precedent investigations on this subject in the Catalan cultural area 89 in Montseny [ 31 ], in Pallars, Pyrenees [ 36 ].
It also occupies a medium position in a ranking going from 36 to taxa used for animal health care in European, African, Asian, and American territories [ 12 , 18 , 19 , 22 , 23 , 33 — 35 ]. In fact, it is not far from the average of the data contained in the 10 studies reported in the preceding lines The big differences among plant number in these areas may be attributed, apart from geographical and possible cultural facts, to the different extension of the territories prospected from small communities to entire countries.
In any case, we can consider the number of plant taxa reported in the present study as rather high, taking into account the decrease in folk animal health practices experienced in industrialised areas [ 1 ]. The ten most reported plants were Tanacetum parthenium 24 use reports , Parietaria officinalis 15 , Ranunculus parnassifolius 14 , Meum athamanticum 13 , Olea europaea 13 , Quercus ilex 12 , Ruta chalepensis 12 , Sambucus nigra 10 , Thymus vulgaris 10 , and Malva sylvestris 9. Among these plants, there are some of the most reported also in other Mediterranean territories, especially Malva sylvestris , Parietaria officinalis , Ruta chalepensis , Sambucus nigra , and Thymus vulgaris [ 18 , 30 , 31 , 33 , 35 , 36 ].
An originality of this study is the report in top position in the ranking of Meum athamanticum and Ranunculus parnassifolius. These two central European high mountain plants [ 53 ], reported, respectively, for the second and first time in veterinary see Section 3.
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Another high mountain Ranunculus species R. It is worth mentioning also the plant occupying the 11th position in our list as per number of reports, Eryngium campestre. This plant, only reported in veterinary to date with the same use in another Catalan region [ 31 ], and with different uses in Andalusia [ 34 ] and Aragon [ 63 ], is widely employed in two of the areas prospected AE, AT as an antiophidian.
In addition, another species of the same genus E. These two taxa were not recorded as another congeneric one, E.
The families containing more taxa with claimed veterinary uses are Lamiaceae 10 taxa , Asteraceae 9 , Apiaceae 6 , Liliaceae 6 , Pinaceae 6 , and Crassulaceae 5. Some of them Apiaceae, Asteraceae, Lamiaceae, Liliaceae are at the same time large families and typically abundant in Mediterranean areas, and they are among the more represented families in most ethnobotanical works in this biogeographical region [ 66 ] and references therein. Another one, Pinaceae, not so big in terms of number of taxa, is landscape dominating in significant parts of the studied areas.
All these families but one Crassulaceae are among the top ten in the recent world inventory of veterinary ethnobotany [ 27 ]. Most of these families are coincidental with the main ones appearing in other studies in the Catalan linguistic area [ 31 , 36 ], as well as in other Iberian [ 33 — 35 ] and other Mediterranean [ 18 , 30 ] territories.
In an area within Argentina, a great distance from those here studied, the cosmopolitan families Asteraceae and Lamiaceae are coincidental as some of the most reported ones, but others, such as Verbenaceae and Zygophyllaceae, make a difference [ 23 ]. Similarly, in a South African region Asteraceae also occupy a preeminent place, but not Lamiaceae, whereas Capparaceae and Euphorbiaceae are particularly relevant [ 19 ], contrarily to the currently considered area.