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Managing Plant Resources: How Intensive Can it be?

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Previous studies have shown there is a wide spectrum of incipient management practices between gathering and agriculture, that include resources commonly considered “wild.” Based on the study of 20 species used as foodstuffs in the community of Santa María Tecomavaca (Mexico), we evaluated nonagricultural management forms such as gathering, incipient nonselective management, incipient selective management and occasional ex situ cultivation to learn if they represent a gradient in the intensity of manipulation of a resource. The way in which the intensity of manipulation of a resource can vary as a function of cultural importance and the species’ biology was also analyzed. Using an index that measures the intensity of management of a resource, it has been established that the degree of intensity depends on: the specialization of the practices directed to the environment as well as to the individuals; the number of persons performing these practices; and the number of different practices taking place. The degree of management intensity is also a consequence of the joint action of cultural importance and of species’ biology.

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  1. Items 3–6 were qualitatively evaluated.


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This research was supported by The National Council of Science and Technology of México CONACYT through Project G35450-V, “Los Recursos Vegetales del Valle de Tehuacán-Cuicatlán desde una Perspectiva Etnobotránica.” Special gratitude is expressed to the Santa María Tecomavaca community for their hospitality and help.

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Correspondence to Martha Sofía González-Insuasti.

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González-Insuasti, M.S., Caballero, J. Managing Plant Resources: How Intensive Can it be?. Hum Ecol 35, 303–314 (2007).

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