Human and environmental factors affect patterns of crop diversity in an Ethiopian highland agroecosystem

Leah H. Samberg, Carol Shennan, Erika S. Zavaleta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Ethiopian highlands are a center of diversity for numerous globally important crops. Heterogeneous landscapes, traditional agricultural practices, and inaccessibility have created and maintained diverse subsistence agroecosystems. We surveyed sixty-three farms in twelve communities of the Gamo highlands and found high levels of on-farm diversity of crop species and varieties. The extent and nature of this diversity are related to both ecological factors, namely elevation, and anthropogenic factors such as land-use history, accessibility to markets and extension, and strength and scale of farmer exchange networks. These human landscape features have the potential to both enhance and mediate effects of elevation and other environmental factors on crop diversity. The interaction of environmental and anthropogenic forces on the diversity of crops grown by farmers affects the strategies farmers employ to adapt their farming to changing conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-408
Number of pages14
JournalProfessional Geographer
Volume62
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2010

Keywords

  • Agricultural biodiversity
  • Agroecology
  • Ethiopia
  • Farmer seed systems
  • Landraces
  • Vulnerability

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