Invasive Species Compendium

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Abstract

Diversity and use of trees and shrubs in smallholder farming systems in the Colombian Andes.

Abstract

This article describes the diversity and use of trees and shrubs in smallholder farming systems in three municipalities of the department of Boyacá in the Colombian Andes, and tests the relations between species richness, use, and a set of socio-economic and structural variables. We conducted ethnobotanical walks and semi-structured interviews on 24 farms to characterize all tree and shrub species. In total, we recorded 142 species with a predominance of natives (88) versus exotics (54). Species richness ranged between four and 40 (X = 25.17; SD = 10.13) per farm and was homogeneous among the municipalities (P > 0.05, Kruskal-Wallis test). We recorded 52 wild species, eight of them endemic, all representative of the surrounding native flora, of which 23% had some type of use. Cultivated species were mostly represented by exotics that had been planted primarily as live fences, ornamentals, or edibles. Species richness was positively correlated with the size of the farms (rs = 0.664, P < 0.001) and negatively with their proximity to areas with natural vegetation (rs = -0.515, P = 0.010). Smallholder agriculture favors the establishment of trees and shrubs; we, therefore, stress the important role of these productive systems for the conservation of biodiversity in the Colombian Andes.