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Indigenous peoples at forefront of climate change offer lessons on plant biodiversity
Date:2/27/2012

ase of cocona, fruits produced by seed look like fruits of the mother plant, regardless of the pollen donorthis is known as maternal inheritance," said Salick. "The Yanesha appreciate this inheritance, which gives them security in knowing exactly what they will harvest when they plant seeds. Amazonian peoples are selecting not only physical plant characteristics that they like (fruit), but also plant breeding systems to perpetuate them. We can admire and emulate how these people domesticate plants, create biodiversity and manage it to sustain their future."

The Yanesha also rely on species richness and diversity in indigenous agriculture and forestry management. They plant a diversity of more than 75 species of crops in home gardens and more than 125 species in swidden fields (an ecological and sustainable system of traditional agriculture) to protect against potential crop destruction from pests, disease or weather. Their agrobiodiversity includes species rarely grown outside of indigenous agriculture. Studies have concluded that the species diversity in indigenous agriculture is unparalleled in modern agriculture and forestry, which often reduces natural diversity rather than enhancing it. As the fragility of our modern monocultures becomes increasingly apparent, agriculture and forestry can learn from and apply traditional knowledge about agrobiodiversity such as intercropping, crop rotations and agroforestry.

Examination of plant diversity over time has shown tremendous diversity of the Yanesha people's staple crop, cassava (Manihot esculenta). Salick and her research team studied over 200 cassava cultivars twice over a 15-year time period in 16 indigenous communities. They found over 90 percent turnover of cultivars in less than 15 years. To enable such dramatic changes in crop varieties without losing biodiversity, the Yanesha have learned to continuously breed new cultivars. Salick emphasizes, "There is no equivalently dynamic or flexible c
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Contact: Karen Hill
karen.hill@mobot.org
314-577-0254
Missouri Botanical Garden
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3 4

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