Human Ecology

, Volume 42, Issue 5, pp 711–726 | Cite as

The Cooked is the Kept: Factors Shaping the Maintenance of Agro-biodiversity in the Andes

  • Kristine SkarbøEmail author


This study examines farmers’ agro-biodiversity decision-making through an Andean case study, and expands upon earlier approaches in two ways. First, it incorporates cultural variables into an econometric analytic framework encompassing the influence of demographic, farm physical and market factors on agro-biodiversity. Second, it encompasses a suite of different richness measures of inter- as well as intraspecific agro-biodiversity. Data are drawn from interviews with the heads of 89 farm households in Cotacachi, Ecuador. ANOVA and poisson regressions are used to analyze the relations between explanatory variables and agro-biodiversity measures. Results show that culture and subsistence play key roles in fostering diversity maintenance; those who strongly identify with local Kichwa cultural traditions and those whose production is mainly subsistence-oriented grow the most diverse fields. The findings indicate that initiatives supporting cultural revitalization and agriculture oriented at home consumption will likely enhance in situ diversity maintenance.


Agro-biodiversity Andes Crop diversity Ecuador Farmer decision-making In situ conservation 



I am grateful to the many farmers who participated in this project, to the Unión de Organizaciones Campesinas e Indígenas de Cotacachi for facilitating the research, and to Rosa Ramos and Aida Guandinango for able research assistance. I thank Virginia Nazarea, Bram Tucker and Ricardo Godoy for guidance in the design and analysis of the study, and two anonymous reviewers for insightful comments. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0921859 and an Andrew E. and G. Norman Wigeland Fellowship from the American-Scandinavian Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Western Norway Research InstituteSogndalNorway

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