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Human Ecology

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 53–71 | Cite as

Edible Wild Plant Use in a Mapuche Community of Northwestern Patagonia

  • Ana H. Ladio
  • Mariana Lozada
Article

Abstract

Mapuche Indians have a long tradition of using edible wild resources. The people of Rams (Neuquén, Argentina) consider themselves descendants of the Pehuenches, an Indian group that once inhabited the Pehuén forest region. They now live in the steppe, far away from the forest. Our primary interests are how this community uses edible resources and in analyzing which plants are still utilized. We conducted an ethnobotanical study, which consisted in interviewing several Mapuche families and collecting plants with their help. Ecological variables of plant use, such as search cost, handling time, and nutritional content, were analyzed from the perspective of Optimal Foraging Theory. Our results indicate that the Rams inhabitants have a thorough understanding of their environment, expressed in a selective gathering of wild resources. Cost and benefit trade-offs seem to be considered when edible plants are collected.

wild edible plants gathering optimal foraging theory Mapuche Patagonia 

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ana H. Ladio
    • 1
  • Mariana Lozada
    • 1
  1. 1.Depto de Ecología, Universidad Nacional del ComahueCentro Regional Univesitario Bariloche, Casilla de Correo UniversidadS.C. de BarilocheArgentina

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