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Implications of forest type and land tenure diversity for the sustainability of ecosystem services provided by northern Amazonia’s multiple-use tree species



As global landscapes continue to change, the sustainability of the ecosystem services they support are increasingly coming into question. In the rapidly changing neotropics, multiple-use plants epitomize sources of ecosystem services. To sustain the relationship that exists between such plants and human populations, a sound understanding of their well-being is required.


Density data on multiple-use plants were compared across forest types and land tenure classes to understand the implications of these two spatial frames of reference for landscape sustainability.


The density of an aggregate sample of seventeen multiple-use and a sub-sample of five species were examined relative to forest type and land tenure class across fourteen Rupununi, Southern Guyana, study sites. The examination of plant density based on the two sample sizes was used to make inferences on how the two frames of reference may impact landscape sustainability.


The mean density of the aggregate sample was highest in three of six forest types, but showed no statistical difference across land tenure classes. When individual species were considered mean densities showed no statistical difference across land tenure classes, but differences were observed for three species across forest types. Mean densities were highest in forest types within which swidden agriculture occurs and in the protected area where logging is prohibited.


Our findings suggested that in changing tropical landscapes plant species distribution can be predicted by forest types, but land tenure classes may provide clearer signals as to where a species well-being and hence ecosystem services may be compromised.

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  1. The Amerindian Act 2006 defines an Amerindian village as a group of Amerindians occupying a portion of land to which they have been granted village lands (title) by the state. In this sense, the count of villages in the study area only includes legal communities and does not account for those functional communities that occupy state lands or satellite communities that fall under the purview of a village but is away from village lands. Culturally, satellite villages start as farming areas or as a group of people moving away to maintain the customary sparse housing patterns observed in communities, but generally remain connected to their mother communities. In this regard the Rupununi landscape consists of many more than twenty-five groups of people living in communal arrangements.

  2. ASTER GDEM is a product of METI and NASA.


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This paper represents hours of dedicated work and service from persons all across the Rupununi. In particular, we thank the teams in the fourteen villages where we collected data on multiple-use plant species: Benedict Joseph, Thaddeus Joseph, Ozias James, Orville Milton, Keary Duncan, John Duncan, John Loyola, Handley Thomas, Ram Henry, Alphaeus Thomas, Brucelee Henry, Selverio Edwards, Persaud Moses, Gilbert Domingo, Randolph Brown, Davis Brown, Cameron Anton, Cyril Jonas, Andrew Mandook, Mr. Martin, Billy Martin, Eli Martin, Alphonso Francis, Edgar Caitan, Johnny, William Pereira, Aaron Pereira, Carl St. Hill, Carlson St. Hill, Donald Andries, Jackson Joel, Alexis Nagarine, Danford Moses, Ricky Moses, Marcus Moses, Carro Moses, and Stephen Andries. We are grateful to the people of the Rupununi, in particular the leadership of the North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB), Bina Hill Institute and the South Central Peoples Development Association (SCPDA). At Project Fauna Dr. Jeff Luzar and Ms. Ketlen Williams, supported data collection. At UT Dallas Aravind Sivasailam and Muna Shah provided assistance in a number of areas. The Guyana Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in conjunction with the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs granted permission for this research. The Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission, Conservation International Guyana and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission kindly provided base maps and maps of Amerindian communities. Funding for this project was made possible by the US National Science Foundation BE/CNH Grant 0837531.

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Correspondence to Anthony R. Cummings.

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Cummings, A.R., Read, J.M. & Fragoso, J.M.V. Implications of forest type and land tenure diversity for the sustainability of ecosystem services provided by northern Amazonia’s multiple-use tree species. Landscape Ecol 33, 423–438 (2018).

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  • Multiple-use plants
  • Ecosystem services
  • Forest type
  • Land tenure
  • Landscape diversity
  • Landscape sustainability
  • Tropical landscapes