Home gardens' agrobiodiversity and owners' knowledge of their ecological, economic and socio-cultural multifunctionality: A case study in the lowlands of Tabasco, México

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Background: Home gardens (HGs) are hotspots of in situ agrobiodiversity conservation. We conducted a case study in Tabasco, México, on HG owners' knowledge of HG ecological, economical and socio-cultural multifunctionality and how it relates to agrobiodiversity as measured by species richness and diversity. The term multifunctionality knowledge refers to owners' knowledge on how HGs contribute to ecological processes, family economy, as well as human relations and local culture. We hypothesized a positive correlation between owners' multifunctionality knowledge and their HGs' agrobiodiversity. Methods: We inventoried all perennial species in 20 HGs, determined observed species richness, calculated Shannon diversity indexes and analysed species composition using non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS). Based on literature, semi-structured interviews and a dialogue of knowledge with HG owners, we catalogued the locally recognized functions in the ecological, economic and socio-cultural dimensions. We determined the score of knowledge on each function in the three dimensions on explicit scales based on the interviews and observed management. We determined Spearman rs correlations of HGs' observed species richness, Shannon diversity index (H) and of HGs' scores on NMDS-Axis and multifunctionality knowledge scores. We dialogued on the results and implications for agrobiodiversity conservation at workshops of HG owners, researchers and local organizations. Results: HG agrobiodiversity and owners' multifunctionality knowledge in the study area showed large variation. Average richness was 59.6 perennial species, varying from 21 to 107 species, and total observed richness was 280 species. A total of 38 functions was distinguished, with 14, 12 and 12 functions in the ecological, economic and socio-cultural dimensions. Total multifunctionality knowledge scores varied from 64.1 to 106.6, with an average of 87.2. Socio-cultural functionality knowledge scores were the highest, followed by scores in the ecological and economic dimensions. Species richness and Shannon H were significantly correlated with ecological functionality knowledge (rs = 0.68 and P < 0.001 in both cases), and species richness was also correlated with economic functionality knowledge (rs = 0.47, P = 0.03). Species composition scores on the first and second axes of NMDS was significantly correlated with knowledge of ecological multifunctionality, with rs = 0.49 resp-0.49 and P = 0.03 in both cases. Other functionality knowledge scores showed no correlation with NMDS scores. Dialogue in workshops confirmed the interwovenness of multifunctionality knowledge and agrobiodiversity. Conclusion: The rich agrobiodiversity of home gardens cherished by rural families in Tabasco relates with the knowledge about HG functionality in the ecological and economic dimensions. Also, species composition relates with ecological functionality knowledge. The socio-cultural functionality knowledge, which includes many elements beyond the individual HG, is not correlated with agrobiodiversity, but had the highest scores. Our results show that multifunctionality knowledge provides many opportunities for the participative conception and planning of policies and actions necessary to conserve agrobiodiversity.




Avilez-López, T., Van Der Wal, H., Aldasoro-Maya, E. M., & Rodríguez-Robles, U. (2020). Home gardens’ agrobiodiversity and owners’ knowledge of their ecological, economic and socio-cultural multifunctionality: A case study in the lowlands of Tabasco, México. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, 16(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13002-020-00392-2

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