Human Ecology

, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 605–616 | Cite as

Resource-Use Patterns in Swidden Farming Communities: Implications for the Resilience of Cassava Diversity

  • Laura A. Cavechia
  • Maurício Cantor
  • Alpina Begossi
  • Nivaldo Peroni


Resource-use patterns, especially through exchanges among farmers, may ultimately confer resilience to the local agrobiodiversity. We investigated the use of cassava ethnovarieties by swidden farming communities in Brazil, exploring the structure of networks depicting farmers and the varieties they cultivate. The emergent nested resource-use pattern indicated that all farmers shared a core of top-ranked ethnovarieties (most common/abundant) while some farmers also cultivate rarer varieties. This pattern may result of individual preferences. Due to the current loss of interest and cultivation area for traditional agriculture, we simulated the extinction of crop fields to evaluate whether nestedness conferred robustness to cassava diversity. The diversity of ethnovarieties of cassava tended to be conserved when farmers were randomly removed from the network than when we preferentially removed farmers with more diverse crop fields. Stem cuttings of ethnovarieties are commonly exchanged among farmers, thus the extinction of ethnovarieties within crop fields could be restored. Therefore, we suggest that the interplay between the farmer’s resource-use patterns and exchange system strengthens the resilience of cassava diversity, which is an important staple resource for such communities.


Agrobiodiversity Ecological networks Nestedness Swidden system 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura A. Cavechia
    • 1
  • Maurício Cantor
    • 1
    • 2
  • Alpina Begossi
    • 3
    • 4
  • Nivaldo Peroni
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Ecologia e ZoologiaUniversidade Federal de Santa CatarinaFlorianópolisBrazil
  2. 2.Department of BiologyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  3. 3.Fisheries and Food Institute, Ecomar/UnisantaSantosBrazil
  4. 4.Universidade Estadual de Campinas, CAPESCA/PREACCampinasBrazil

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