Human Ecology

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 89–104 | Cite as

Dung as an essential resource in a highland Peruvian community

  • Bruce Winterhalder
  • Robert Larsen
  • R. Brooke Thomas


The present paper examines the use of dung for two essential human resources, fuel and fertilizer, in a highland community of southern Peru. The limited energy availability and the poor soils of the region, primarily the result of high-altitude climate and topography, necessitate this practice. Alternatives to dung use are costly or unavailable. Grazing herbivores transform the widely dispersed puna grasses into a compact and easily gathered source of energy and nutrients. Native choice among available dungs corresponds to their qualities: sheep dung, richest in nutrients, is applied as fertilizer; llama and cattle dungs, each with a high caloric value, are burned as fuels. Dung use is interpreted as an energetically efficient response to the highland environment and as central to the subsistence pattern in the area.


Environmental Management Human Resource Limited Energy Native Choice Poor Soil 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce Winterhalder
    • 1
  • Robert Larsen
    • 2
  • R. Brooke Thomas
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyCornell UniversityIthaca
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of WisconsinMadison

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