Record Details

Wezel, A.;Ohl, J.
Does remoteness from urban centres influence plant diversity in homegardens and swidden fields?: A case study from the Matsiguenka in the Amazonian rain forest of Peru
Agroforestry Systems
Journal Article
floodplains;indigenous people;Manu National Park;shifting;cultivation;slash and burn;ZONATION;GARDENS
Swidden cultivation is the traditional agricultural system in most parts of the Amazonian rain forest. In a remote area in the Manu National Park, Peru, this system was analysed in two indigenous Matsiguenka communities. Diversity of cultivated plants on fields and in homegardens are presented in the current study. Cultivated plants were noted on two to four plots per field on 46 fields, making a total of 126 survey plots. Nineteen homegardens were studied as well. Dominating species cultivated on fields is cassava (Manihot esculenta). Fruit trees such as the peach palm (Bactris gasipaes), guava (Psidium guajava) or Inga edulis, but also cotton (Gossypium barbadense) and a medicinal plant (Cyperus sp.) predominate in more than 75 % of the homegardens analysed. Species diversity increases steadily from 18 and 24 species on 1- and 2-year-old fields to 26, 29 and 66 species in young, medium old and old homegardens, respectively. Seventy-one different species in total were found in all homegardens analysed and 25 in swidden fields. Diversity of species cultivated in homegardens is low compared to other studies in the rain forest of the Amazon. This seems to be due to their remoteness from the next urban centre and to the fact that they are native communities with still low external exchange of information. These findings are in contrast to the hypothesis that remoteness from urban centres increases species richness because subsistence production is based on a broad variety of species. In contrast to species richness in homegardens, differences in species richness in swidden fields between the present and other studies could not be found.
Times Cited: 0