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Henrik Balslev

Ashaninka Palm Management and Domestication in the Peruvian Amazon

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  • Joanna Sosnowska, Polish Acad Sci, Polish Academy of Science, W Szafer Inst Bot
  • ,
  • Adam Walanus, AGH Univ Sci & Technol, AGH University of Science & Technology, Fac Geol Geophys & Environm Protect
  • ,
  • Henrik Balslev

Palms are a natural resource that has been abundantly used by Amerindians for centuries. Only a few palm domestications have been reported in the American tropics, where there is great diversity of the Arecaceae family. We report the results of a survey combining ethnobotanical and ecological methods to study the past and present management and distribution of palms by the Ashaninka indigenous people from the Tambo river region in the Peruvian Amazon. Our objectives were to document palm-related traditional ecological knowledge, to examine correlation between palm abundance and Ashaninka management practices and social exchange of palm resources, and to address the question of how the Ashaninka have modified palm diversity and distribution in their territory. We found that most palm species have multiple uses; the most intensively managed were palms that provide thatch, notably Attalea phalerata, Oenocarpus mapora and Phytelephas macrocarpa. Of these, Attalea phalerata was the most commonly cultivated and was found only in cultivated stands. Our results have implications for understanding the domestication of Attalea weberbaueri, which is a landrace within the Attalea phalerata complex. A closer understanding of this process would require morphometric and genetic methods to compare wild and managed populations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Ecology: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Pages (from-to)451-466
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015

    Research areas

  • Ethnobotany, Landscape domestication, Peru, Traditional ecological knowledge, Arecaceae palm cultivation, MAURITIA-FLEXUOSA, COMMUNITIES, DIVERSITY, FOREST, ARECACEAE, IMPACTS, ECOLOGY

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