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Inter- and Intraspecific Edible Plant Diversity of the Tének Milpa Fields in Mexico
Economic Botany  (IF1.731),  Pub Date : 2019-11-25, DOI: 10.1007/s12231-019-09475-y
C. Heindorf, J. A. Reyes–Agüero, A. van’t Hooft, J. Fortanelli–Martínez

Traditional land use systems are often rich in crop diversity. However, complete inter- and intraspecific data are scarce, limiting our understanding and underestimating the diversity of plant genetic reservoirs. This study attempted to characterize the total edible plant diversity of the milpas, or polyculture maize-based fields, managed by Tének communities in México. In 41 milpas belonging to 33 farmers in three localities at different altitudes, 191 edible plant types were inventoried, comprising 84 species that include 140 variants and 51 species with no variants. Diversity varies between and within localities. Only 8.4% of the diversity is shared among the localities and, on average, 61.2% of the total richness is managed by single farmers. The intermediate altitude has higher diversity, including 67.5% of the total richness. Crop population numbers are low and highly variable. To contribute to the interpretation and application of results, a proposed method to identify priority crops, sites, and farmers is presented. This study shows, once again, that indigenous farming communities are key actors for the use and conservation of crop genetic diversity. More detailed studies such as this may evidence much larger managed crop diversity than currently is acknowledged.