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Seed Sharing in Amazonian Indigenous Rain Forest Communities: a Social Network Analysis in three Achuar Villages, Peru

Abizaid, Christian, Coomes, Oliver T., Perrault-Archambault, Mathilde
Human ecology 2016 v.44 no.5 pp. 577-594
biodiversity, crops, domestication, farmers, forest communities, home gardens, kinship, landraces, multivariate analysis, planting, rain forests, rivers, social networks, villages, Peru
Farmer-to-farmer seed transfers are important for plant domestication, the dissemination of improved crops and in building and maintaining agricultural diversity. Seed sharing may be conceptualized as networks through which planting material flows and landraces are disseminated and conserved. To date, research on seed sharing networks has focused on sociograms and network measures to describe their structure and key actors within them; their bivariate or multivariate correlates have been studied using conventional statistics. We conducted a study of home garden agrobiodiversity and seed networks in three Achuar communities along the upper Corrientes River in Peru. We examine the distribution of home garden crop species within and across communities and apply multivariate techniques within Social Network Analysis (SNA) to analyse the formation and structure of seed networks and to identify key actors in seed sharing. Of particular interest is the relationship among crop diversity, farmer expertise, kinship, and seed sharing behavior. Our results point to the importance of kinship relations, community size, and the ‘knowledge-plant transfer’ nexus in shaping seed networks.