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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2012, Article ID 364564, 10 pages
Research Article

A New Application for the Optimal Foraging Theory: The Extraction of Medicinal Plants

1Botany Post-Graduation Program, Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco, Dom Manoel de Medeiros Street, s/n, Dois Irmãos 52171-900 Recife, PE, Brazil
2Applied Ethnobotany Laboratory and Biology Department, Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco, Dom Manoel de Medeiros Street, s/n, Dois Irmãos, 52171-900 Recife, PE, Brazil

Received 7 June 2011; Accepted 25 July 2011

Academic Editor: Maria Franco Trindade Medeiros

Copyright © 2012 Gustavo Taboada Soldati and Ulysses Paulino de Albuquerque. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The Optimal Foraging Theory was used to identify possible patterns in bark extraction and the selective cutting of Anadenanthera colubrina (Angico), a medicinal plant. The hypotheses were built on two approaches: selection of collection place and bark exploitation occurrence in only one of these resource areas. The results suggest that the distance that must be traveled to reach each gathering site determines the extent of the extraction process, showing that people minimize the time and energy spent in A. colubrina collection. The availability of each site appears not to influence the operation. The resource amount was the optimized variable for bark extraction, which was analyzed in only one collection zone. In contrast to the phenomenon of collection place selection, the distance between angico individuals, the management period, and the tannin content did not affect bark extraction. This study also discusses how certain cultural aspects influence the extraction of angico.