Management of vegetation, plant domestication and origins of agriculture in Mesoamerica

  • Alejandro Casas Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
  • Javier Caballero Jardín Botánico, Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
  • Cristina Mapes Jardín Botánico, Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
  • Sergio Zárate Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Keywords: artificial selection, domestication, origins of agriculture, plant management, silviculture

Abstract

A model of domestication of  plants in Mesoamerica based  on  selective management  of  plant populations and  communities by silvicultural practices is analyzed. Archaeological and  ethnobotanical information  suggests that  intentional manipulation of vegetation by Mesoamerican peoples has occurred in  past  and present times  in  order to  control availability  of  useful  plants. Forms of  management of  plant communities or  populations have  included tolerance, protection and  enhancement of individual  plants of  particular species  during clearance of  vegetation and  other ways of  perturbation. Processes of  artificial selection  (selection  in situ) may be carried out  through these  forms  of plant  management. These processes may cause significant morphological differences between wild and  managed populations as illustrated by the  cases  discussed here of  Anoda  cristata,  Crotalaria pumila,  Leucaena esculenta and  Stenocereus stellatus. Processes of artificial selection in  situ are mechanisms of  incipient domestication of  plants which  appear to  have  been   carried out  in Mesoamerica, perhaps since pre-agricultural times,  and  that  could contribute  to explain the processes that  led to  the  origins of agriculture in this region.

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Management of vegetation, plant domestication and origins of agriculture in Mesoamerica
Published
2017-05-20
How to Cite
Casas, A., Caballero, J., Mapes, C., & Zárate, S. (2017). Management of vegetation, plant domestication and origins of agriculture in Mesoamerica. Botanical Sciences, (61), 31 - 47. https://doi.org/10.17129/botsci.1537
Section
REVIEW / REVISIÓN