Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 16, Issue 8, pp 2243–2252 | Cite as

A social–ecological network analysis of Argentinean Andes transhumant pastoralism

  • Marcos Horacio EasdaleEmail author
  • Martín Roberto Aguiar
  • Raúl Paz
Original Article


Many mountainous regions worldwide are characterized by harsh environments, scarce infrastructure, and extreme contrasts between mountains and neighboring plateaus and plains. Transhumance is a social adaptation to handle geomorphological heterogeneity such as lowlands and highlands, and to cope with environmental variability (seasonal and regional rainfall and snowfall). We studied the regional transhumant system with a network approach in the Andes of North Patagonia, Argentina. We measured the connectivity promoted by the seasonal movements of herds and people (relationships) among different ecosystems (nodes), defined as winter and summer lands. We identified 238 networks. The highest frequencies corresponded to small network structures (dyads and triads), suggesting that landscape management is highly decentralized. Network complexity was positively related to ecological richness and diversity of connected nodes. However, most networks were dependent upon a central node, suggesting vulnerable situations regarding disturbances affecting such key nodes. The identification of social–ecological traps of this mobile system provided novel insights for policy decision making, which otherwise would not be evidenced with traditional approaches. Management proposals and policy making should consider the spatial and temporal scales of transhumant pastoralism, in order to avoid problems derived from fixation logics, scale mismatches, and disconnection.


Connectivity Mobility Mountain regions Patagonia Resilience Variability 



We acknowledge the financial support provided by Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria (INTA-PATNOR 810262) and PIA 10059. We are very grateful to Luciano Mammoni and SENASA for their support with data and confidence on this study. We thank F. Umaña and F. Raffo for their help in an early stage of data processing. We strongly thank editors, with a special acknowledge to Dr. Diana Sietz and Dr. Giuseppe Feola, and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions that substantially improved this paper. Finally, we are very grateful to Helen Easdale for her careful proofreading and improving the readability of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria (INTA), EEA-BarilocheSan Carlos de BarilocheArgentina
  2. 2.Cátedra de Ecología - IFEVA, Facultad de AgronomíaUniversidad de Buenos Aires-CONICETBuenos AiresArgentina
  3. 3.Cátedra de Sociología RuralUniversidad Nacional de Santiago del Estero-CONICETSantiago del EsteroArgentina

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