Influence of traditional markets on plant management in the Tehuacán Valley
© Arellanes et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2013
Received: 12 March 2013
Accepted: 17 May 2013
Published: 1 June 2013
The Tehuacán Valley, Mexico is a region with exceptionally high biocultural richness. Traditional knowledge in this region comprises information on nearly 1,600 plant species used by local peoples to satisfy their subsistence needs. Plant resources with higher cultural value are interchanged in traditional markets. We inventoried the edible plant species interchanged in regional markets documenting economic, cultural and ecological data and about their extraction and management in order to: (1) assess how commercialization and ecological aspects influence plant management, (2) identify which species are more vulnerable, and (3) analyze how local management contributes to decrease their risk. We hypothesized that scarcer plant species with higher economic value would be under higher pressure motivating more management actions than on more abundant plants with lower economic value. However, construction of management techniques is also influenced by the time-span the management responses have taken as well as biological and ecological aspects of the plant species that limit the implementation of management practices. Plant management mitigates risk, but its absence on plant species under high risk may favor local extinction.
Six traditional markets were studied through 332 semi-structured interviews to local vendors about barter, commercialization, and management types of local edible plant species. We retrieved ethnobotanical information on plant management from ten communities in a workshop and sampled regional vegetation in a total of 98 sites to estimate distribution and abundance of plant species commercialized. Through Canonical Correspondence Analysis (CCA) we analyzed the amount of variation of management types that can be explained from socioeconomic and ecological information. A risk index was calculated relating distribution, abundance, economic value and management of plant resources to identify the most vulnerable species.
We recorded 122 edible plant species interchanged in the main regional markets. CCA explained significantly 24% of management variation, spatial distribution and plant parts used being particularly important in management decisions. The indeterminate 76% of variation suggests that management decisions depend on particular variables that are not explained by the ecological and socioeconomic factors studied and/or their high variation in the context at the regional scale. The risk index indicated that management was the factor that mostly influences decreasing of risk of interchanged plant species. We identified Clinopodium mexicanum, Pachycereus weberi, Dasylirion serratifolium, Disocorea sp., Ceiba aesculifolia, Neobuxbamia tetetzo, Lippia graveolens, Litsea glaucescens, L. neesiana, Jatropha neopauciflora, Agave potatorum and other agave species used for producing mescal among the more endangered plant species due to human pressure, their relative scarcity and limited or inexistent management.
Spatial distribution and plant parts used are particularly meaningful factors determining risk and influencing management actions on edible plant species interchanged in the region. Limited or inexistent management may favor extinction of local populations under risk. Local management techniques synthesize knowledge and experiences crucial for designing sustainable management programs. Traditional management techniques supported by ecological information and environmental management approaches could make valuable contributions for sustainable use of plant species, particularly those becoming economically important more recently.
Interchange was in the past and currently is in Mesoamerica a key institution that allows peoples from a particular region to obtain products from diverse ecological and cultural areas to complement their livelihoods [1, 2]. Chroniclers of the Spanish conquest of Mexico [3–5] described important Pre-Columbian markets called “tianquiste” in Náhuatl (the Aztec language) and “plazas” in Spanish which made possible reconstructing how these markets were, trade routes of particular plant products and interchange nets in the whole region and between Mesoamerica and other areas of the New World . Some important plant resources documented in historical sources are species native to the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Valley (ahead shortly called Tehuacán Valley) which were and are part of the diet of regional people [7–9]. Prominent are the cases of ‘tempesquistle’ (Sideroxylon palmeri), ‘pochote’ (Ceiba aesculifolia), prickly pears and pitayas or ‘nochtli’ (fruits of Opuntia spp. Stenocereus spp., Polaskia spp., Escontria chiotilla, among others), agave flowers and stems (Agave spp.), and dozens of other species [7, 9, 10]. A number of both native and non-native plant species are still interchanged in the regional tianquiste[11–13]; some of them are resources important from pre-Columbian times and others are products that became commercially important more recently.
Interchange influences rhythms at which plant products are extracted from ecosystems and also may influence decisions about its management form, but this latter aspect has been scarcely studied [11, 12, 14]. This topic is particularly important to be studied in the Tehuacán Valley since this region has been widely recognized as a meaningful area for understanding processes of domestication of plants and origins of agriculture . Studying current relations between interchange and management of local biodiversity in this region makes possible to analyze human pressures and motives for managing and domesticating plants, which in turn may be helpful to model possible scenarios of plant management in the past [12, 15].
The case study in the Tehuacán Valley
Archaeological research in the Tehuacán Valley documented that humans have been present in the region for more than 10,000 years, and found among the oldest signs of management and domestication of plants in the New World [7, 16, 17]. In addition, ethnobotanists have documented current forms of plant management involving domestication of native plant species associated to both silvicultural and agricultural systems [9, 12, 18, 19]. Plants diversity is high in the Tehuacán Valley; Dávila et al.  reported nearly 3,000 vascular plant species, and such diversity coexists with an also high cultural richness represented by numerous rural communities of eight indigenous groups (Nahua, Popoloca, Cuicatec, Ixcatec, Chocho, Mazatec, Mixtec and Chinantec ). The close relationship between local peoples and natural resources of the region for thousands of years [7, 21] have generated a deep traditional knowledge and diversified strategies of management of plants, animals and ecosystems. In this region, ethnobotanists have documented one of the richest inventories of useful plants of Mexico, with over 1,600 plant species used for different purposes by local peoples [9, 22]. Nearly 36% of these plant species receive some kind of management , and most of the managed species (nearly 60%) are native to the area, coexisting with their wild relatives occurring in local forests. A gradient of management of edible plant species has be documented to exist in the region [9, 22, 23]. Of a total of 339 edible plant species registered in the whole area, 257 (nearly 75%) are under some management type other than simple gathering.
The spectrum of management practices, in addition to simple gathering includes: (1) systematic gathering, involving communitarian agreements for planning strategies, social organization, specialized techniques and tools, and different harvesting intensities, (2) in situ management techniques, including tolerance or let standing, enhancing or promotion and special care of particular species and/or phenotypes of some species preferred by people in areas disturbed for different purposes, mainly agroforestry systems and natural forest areas, (3) agricultural systems which include a gradient of management intensity, from slash and burn agriculture in small parcels, terraces, and intensive agro-industrial agriculture in irrigated areas [9, 12, 15, 24, 25]. Through management people modify and adapt the availability of plant resources according to their needs [8, 26] with the purpose of guaranteeing amount and quality of resources. All this information suggests that the Tehuacán Valley is a main center of plant management in Mesoamerica, ideal for documenting how decisions and techniques for managing resources are constructed and how on-going processes of domestication of plants occur [19, 27].
Traditional markets involve interchange that influences mechanisms of social articulation of peasant societies . The term “traditional” used for characterizing these markets involves aspects such as: i) pre-Columbian origin and features similar to those of conquest chronicles’ descriptions, ii) specific tianquiste or plaza days, once or twice per week, iii) interchange of products either through cash or by barter, and iv) presence of sellers from diverse areas, mainly women carrying plants harvested at low scale in their home gardens, parcels or forests around their villages . Barter is a particularly important characteristic of traditional markets [29, 30] through which people interchange natural resources through maize seeds, products elaborated with maize, fruits, flowers, roots and other plant products [13, 31–33]. In the Tehuacán Valley people interchange plant products used as food, medicine, firewood, raw materials for handcrafts, supplies for construction and ornamental plants . This study focuses on edible plants. Previously, the cases of ‘pochote’ (Ceiba aesculifolia subsp. parvifolia) [18, 31], ‘mescal agave’ (Agave potatorum Zucc.) , ‘tempesquistle’ (S. palmeri) , columnar cacti fruits: ‘xoconostle’ (Stenocereus stellatus) , ‘tetechas’ (Pachycereus weberi) [13, 33], and ‘jiotilla’ (E. chiotilla) [13, 33] have been documented and illustrated that sale of edible plants may represent significant monetary incomes.
Economic aspects of traditional markets have been well documented [29, 30], but little is known about pressures of markets on plant populations, and how these factors may motivate plant management. To analyze these issues, we explored the following questions: 1) what richness of edible plant species is interchanged in traditional markets of the Tehuacán Valley?, 2) which are main socioeconomic and ecological factors influencing management of edible plants?, and 3) which edible plant species are more vulnerable to risk due to high trade and/or inadequate management and/or scarcity? Because of the high biocultural diversity of the Tehuacán Valley we expected to find a high plant species richness interchanged in local traditional markets. We presumed that salespeople have developed rhythms and strategies of extraction and other technological responses to meet the demand for certain plant products. It was therefore expected that edible plants interchanged in markets have higher risk and consequently receive more management than other useful plants registered in the region. Such patterns should be particularly clear in plant species whose distribution and abundance is restricted. We therefore hypothesized that scarcer plant species with higher economic value would be under higher pressure motivating more management actions than on more abundant plants with lower economic value. However, not all plant species endangered are necessarily managed because time for developing techniques has been short or because biological characteristics, such as difficult propagation or maintenance, may limit success of management. We then also expected that not managed native plants under increasing commercial demand are particularly endangered, especially those with restricted distribution and abundance. This latter could be the situation of species becoming commercial plant resources more recently and for which management techniques have not been still developed. Traditional forms of constructing decisions and management techniques are valuable bases for designing sustainable management strategies for regional biodiversity conservation.
Data collection in traditional markets
Sociocultural and environmental information of market villages studied
Village total population
Ethnic groups represented in market customers and sellers
No. of different surrounding villages that use the market
Market day(s) and Type of market1
San Juan Bautista Cuicatlán
Cuicatec, Ixcatec, Mestizo, Mazatec
Friday and Saturday (municipal ≈ 40 stands)
Teotitlán de Flores Magón
Mazatec, Nahua, Mestizo
Wednesday and Sunday (municipal ≈ 80 stands)
Nahua, Mixtec, Mestizo
Sunday (local ≈ 40 stands)
San Sebastián Zinacatepec
Nahua, Mixtec, Mestizo
Thursday (municipal ≈ 80 stands)
Nahua, Mixtec, Popoloca, Mazatec, Mestizo
Wednesday and Sunday (microregional ≈ 180 stands)
Nahua, Mixtec, Mazatec, Cuicatec, Chocho, Popoloca, Mestizo
Saturday (regional ≈ 250 stands)
We visited the markets of Ajalpan, Cuicatlán, Zinacatepec and Tehuacán eight times (a total of 205 interviews), we visited the market of Teotitlán 21 times (107 interviews) and five times the market of Coxcatlán (a total of 20 interviews). For conducting interviews and botanical collections we asked permits from the Biosphere Reserve authorities and from the Authorities of the Environment Ministry of Mexico. For studying the mentioned markets we asked permits to the particular authorities of the respective municipalities, and the personal authorization of people interviewed. We interviewed sellers speaking Náhuatl, Mazatec, Mixtec, Cuicatec, and Spanish, with the help of local people for translation. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with sellers about the role of edible plant species in their subsistence. Main topics of the interviews were: i) the names of plant resources in Spanish and indigenous languages, ii) provenance of sellers and the edible plants commercialized, iii) ecological status of plants (wild, weedy, ruderal or domesticated), v) management intensity (if plant species were simply gathered, had incipient in situ management such as tolerance, enhancing and special care, or if plants were cultivated in agricultural systems), vi) sales volume, vii) other uses for the plant besides its edibility, viii) plant parts utilized (fruit, root, leaf, flower or the entire plant), ix) spatial availability (regional distribution and abundance) and season when the resource is available, and x) economic value, as to whether it is interchanged for other products (barter) or if the transaction is with money (commercialization). Botanical specimens obtained in the markets were determinate at the herbarium of the Instituto de Ecología A. C., Mexico (XAL).
Regional information database
Sociocultural and environmental information of the villages where the 98 vegetation samplings were taken
No. of plots
Elevation range (m)
Thorn-scrub forest (2)
Woody forest at elevations below 1,800 m (3)
Highland woody forest (1), agroforestal system in highland woody forest (3)
Santa María Coyomeapan
Highland woody forest (1), agroforestal system in highland woody forest (2)
Highland woody forest (1)
San Luis Atolotitlán
Agricultural system(2), Agroforestal system in Columnar cacti forest (3),Thorn-scrub forest (3), Highland woody forest (3), Woody forest at elevations below 1800 m (6), riparian vegetation (2)
San Rafael Coxcatlán
Woody forest at elevations below 1800 m (2)
Santa María Ixcatlán
Highland woody forest (8), Woody forest at elevations below 1800 m (2), riparian vegetation (1), schlerophyllus scrub forest(2), agricultural system (2), grassland (2)
San Lorenzo Pápalo
Highland woody forest (13), Woody forest at elevation below 1800 m (2), agricultural system(8), riparian vegetation (2), Agroforestal system in highland woody forest(4)
Columnar cacti forest (8), riparian vegetation (2), agricultural system (4)
San José Tilapa
Woody forest elevation below 1800 m (2)
Teotitlán de Flores Magón
Nahua, Mazatec, Mestizo
Woody forest elevation below 1800 m (2)
a) Variation partitioning of management
Matrices used in the partial canonical ordination (CCA)
Management (Response Matrix Y)
Conditions of habitat of a plant species, whether wild, weed or ruderal or domesticated
Conditions of a plant’s management, whether gathered, tolerated, promoted, protected or cultivated
Spatial systems where a plant is found, ranging from natural vegetation to intensive cultivation
Number of Uses
Sum of uses for each species, plus edible use, such as medicinal, forage, ornamental, etc.
Ecological (Matrix X)
Spatial availability or number of plots where a species was present on 98 plots (Table 2)
Presence in one o more of six vegetation types grouped by Valiente-Banuet et al. 2000 .
Temporal availability of the months than edible plants presents at markets.
Used Part Index
Plant used index (based on Pieroni 2001 .
Annual or perennial
Socioeconomic (Matrix W)
Number of markets
Market presence, between 6 markets and 1 market
Number of stalls
Average market stall were species plant is present
Average price of a plant species in all markets
Total sales volume for a day in all markets
Transaction realized by barter and/or money or just by maize.
b) Risk index
Factors included in the risk index of native edible plant species interchanged
Values range (minimum to maximum)
98 plot sites to 1 plot
12 months to 1 month
Used Part Used Index (as Pieroni 2001)
Flowers and bud harvest
Whole aerial plant used
1.0 (as bark) to 3.0 (as whole aerial parts)
Least intensive used (perennial 1), most harvesting (annual 2)
Number of markets
1 to 6 markets
Number of stalls
1 to 9
Lowest price (calculated per 1 kg)
Highest price (calculated per 1 kg)
$1.90 to $308.5
0.19 kg to 661.90 kg
Many methods of interchange
Just with money
2 (interchanged by barter and money), 1 (interchanged just with money).
Domesticated (3), Weed or ruderal (2), wild (1)
Cultivated (5) Protected (4), Promoted (3), Tolerated (2), Gathered (1)
Intensive system (5), Homegardens (4), Agroforestal System (3), Secundary Vegetation (2), wild vegetation (1)
Number of Uses*
Where: i = species i, a = ecological features (factors or data), b = socioeconomic data, c = management data, A = Total ecological data, B = Total socioeconomic data, C = Total management data. R i values go from 0 to unity, as each addend in the sum is a proportion. The format of R i allows its graphical representation in a triangle graph, where the relative importance of each addend is easily seen.
Edible plant species richness, interchanged in markets
A total of 122 edible plant species of 45 botanical families were recorded in the stands of traditional markets. The richest families were: Solanaceae (13 species), Fabaceae (13), Cactaceae (11), Rosaceae (8) and Cucurbitaceae (7), which include nearly half of all edible plant species interchanged in the regional markets. The richest plant families except Rosaceae and Lamiaceae have a higher proportion of native species (Additional file 1). Agavaceae and Lauraceae are represented only by native species and Brassicaceae includes only introduced species. Proportion of introduced edible plant species is slightly higher than native species (63 and 59 species, respectively). The number of edible species increased proportionally with the size of the market (Table 1).
Edible plant species recorded generally have more than one use and management type. We recorded a total of 48 edible plant species obtained through simple gathering; 32 species receive forms of incipient management, and 88 are under agricultural management. Most plant species under simple collection and incipient management are native; these are for instance the cases of Agave potatorum, Yucca periculosa, Escontria chiotilla, Neobuxbaumia tetetzo, Stenocereus stellatus, S. pruinosus, Ceiba aesculifolia. Fourteen edible plant species under agricultural management are native, including: Chenopodium berlandieri, C. ambrosioides, Stenocereus stellatus, and S. pruinosus. Use and management types of edible plant species may differ between localities and was different in each market studied. Nearly 90% of vendors interviewed are gatherers of forest products or cultivators of edible plants. Market activity with edible plants was a highly gendered activity: nearly 95% of sellers are women.
Management types influenced by ecological and socioeconomic factors
Overall fit, importances of axis and explanatory variables of CCA model of how ecologic and economic factors influence management of edible plants in Tehuacán valley
a) Overall fit
b) Importance of axis
c) Importance of variables
Part Used Index
Average Market Stall
Volumen sold total
Our study found a high floristic richness of species of edible plants that are interchanged by small-scale vendors in traditional markets. In the individual stalls of six markets we registered the presence of 34% of all edible plant species documented for the whole Tehuacán Valley [9, 22]. Almost half of the edible plant species recorded are native, and most of them are managed in one or more forms. The analysis of the relation of socioeconomic and ecological factors allows an evaluation of risk endangering future maintenance of plant species, their influence motivating plant management, and the role of management decreasing risk.
A similar percentage of edible plants species sold in the traditional markets is managed compared to all plants managed in the region (74.5% in the markets and 75.81% in the whole region [12, 22]). Management actions may differ among species or among the markets and areas studied, a pattern similar to that reported by Blancas et al. . For instances, in the market of Teotitlán vendors indicated that they did not manage the supplies of the native species Agave potatorum, while one of the development projects for the western region, in San Luis Atolotitlán, involves the propagation of this species . In the case of Ceiba aesculifolia subsp. parvifolia management has been documented suggesting incipient domestication in Coxcatlán, Tilapa and San Rafael [18, 31], but market vendors from Tilapa and San Rafael affirmed that they do not perform any activity that promotes the presence of this species. Therefore, each species has different types of management across local or regional boundaries. This information indicates that it is necessary to conduct particular analysis and documenting more detailed information to determine the differences and similarities of local and regional management. However, the experience of management existing for a particular species in a particular area of the region could be extraordinarily important when designing conservation policies at regional scale.
In general, occurrence or not of management practices and the type of management practiced on a plant species was one of the most influential factors in estimating the risk in permanence of edible species interchanged. In fact, the three factors which we controlled for analyzing potential risk to species – that is, ecological, socioeconomic and management factors – were far from equally balanced (Figure 5). Interpretation of risk index requires a careful analysis; the meaning of the numerical index is helpfully complemented by the graphic representation. The numerical risk index helped us to understand the degree of risk, whereas the triangle of the graphic representation helped us understanding the relative weight of each factor’s contribution to the index. These triangles show which of the three is the most important factor in risk of a particular species. One important thing to notice is that species with higher risk index values are the 14 native plant species that are exclusively gathered; these are the cases of Solanaceae species, as well as Peperomia peltilimba, Lippia graveolens, Dioscorea sp., Pachycereus weberi, Ceiba aesculifolia, Litsea glaucescens, Litsea neesiana, Agave sp. 1, Dasylirion serratifolium, Agave sp. 2, Clinopodium mexicanum, and Jatropha neopauciflora. This is not to say that those plants that are managed in some way are not at risk. Although there is a great overlap between plants interchanged in market and those which are managed, for certain native species, the high amount of products commercialized evidences the intensive extraction, and lack of management of these plants could affect the local populations. An example is the case of Ceiba aesculifolia (pochote), which is collected intensively in San Rafael Coxcatlán and San José Tilapa. In those localities, nearly 20,000 fruits per household are collected every reproductive season [18, 31] and in one “plaza” day we documented the sale of almost 160 kg of cooked seeds. Interviews with local vendors revealed an increasing scarcity of other species such as (i) Neobuxbamia tetetzo in San Antonio Nanahuatipam and in Coxcatlán, (ii) Jatropha neopauciflora in Chazumba, (iii) Dasylirion serratifolium in Ajalpan, San Esteban Nocoxcalco and Santa María Teopoxco, (iv) Myrtillocactus geometrizans in Santa María Nativitas and (v) Pachycereus weberi in Coxcatlán. The vendors of each of these products said that every year they had to walk further into the woods to find these species, and it was progressively more difficult to find them. Such increasing scarcity may also influence costs that provide a negative cycle of feedback for the species. We found that almost 27% of native plants cost around $3 USD or more per kg, while only 8.4% of introduced edible plant costs up to $3 USD per kg. That is, products from native plant species are more expensive than those from introduced species.
Ethnobotanical studies conducted in the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Valley which provide information on edible plant species
Commercialized edible plants
Location where sold
Tehuacán, Ajalpan, Teotitlán markets
San Rafael Coxcatlán homegardens
Zapotitilán, Coxcatlán, San Antonio Cañada, Cuicatlán, markets and localities
38 with money 28 by barter 11 by “order”
Markets and at village
Santiago Quiotepec Locality
(266) 203 useful
At and between villages around and to resellers
San Pedro Nodón y Santiago Jocotipac, localities
(264) 110 useful
At and between villages around and to resellers
San Luis Atolotitlán locality
At and between villages
San Lorenzo Pápalo locality
(520) 367 useful
At and between villages around and to resellers
Zapotitlán de las Salinas locality
(298) 288 useful
Santa María Tecomavaca most common edible plants locality
At and between villages
10 (with money and barter)
At and between villages
30 (with money and barter)
San Luis Atolotitlán Agroforesty system
11 (with money and barter)
At and between villages
Zapotitlán de las Salinas Locality
Most markets studied functioned at least partially on a system of barter. In five of the six markets studied, this type of transaction was observed, and depending on the market, between 22% and 78% of the products offered could be exchanged through barter. The use of barter is not frequent when the resources offered have a price of more than $5 US dollar per kg, that is, when they “are expensive,” or when fruits or vegetables are of prime quality. This type of interchange is more frequent with products that are frequently found in the market, with fruits and vegetables of lower quality, or with low cost products. Traditional markets of Ajalpan, San Sebastián Zinacatepec, and Coxcatlán share a regional particularity of the exchange of plant products through maize. Those localities have a high level of economic marginalization . Corn is not offered by the low-volume vendors, but it is highly appreciated as a product of interchange because it is the main staple food in Mexico.
For people, the traditional markets are ways to obtain incomes through the commercialization and/or barter of products, and it is also a backdrop for the exchange of knowledge and management techniques. According to Arizpe  and Arellanes and Casas , the main importance of these markets are the social, economic, and cultural roles in the communities they take place, but our study also emphasizes their ethnobiological importance in knowledge of numerous local plant species that are used, and in the management actions taken for their conservation. Information of the conservation status of each species requires socio-ecological studies identifying localities where plant populations are endangered because of their scarcity, human pressure and inadequate forms of management. Sellers recognize that plants they remove directly from their ecosystems require adequate forms of management to avoid their extinction, but socio-economic pressures determine that for some cases large amounts of edible plant products are extracted and brought to the markets without any plan or action for their replacement. Among the factors that the sellers recognize as pressures favoring the extensive extraction of resources are: (i) the difficult economic situation (poverty) and need of obtaining monetary incomes; (ii) the increasing number of gatherers because of the absence of other economic alternatives for local people; (iii) the limited access to the resources (since the sites from which they are taken are part of the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán biosphere reserve), which influences looting, illegal sales, (iv) the lack or scarcity of fair and strict communitarian rules governing the use of common resources; (v) the restricted spatial and temporal availability of edible plant species and products; and (vi) climate change affecting the behavior, health and availability of species interchanged.
The risk to conservation of native plants is multifactorial. The high pressure exerted by humans is a principal cause of over-exploitation of certain non-timber forest products and the rates of increasing transformation of the earth ecosystems . Their overuse can affect the species at different scales of their organization, from functions, life cycle, survival, and up to the availability of propagules . Promoting sustainable growth would be an essential action to ensure the continuing presence of a species, but such sustainable use is not only related to the plants’ commercial potential. In fact, the sustainability of resources, whether commercialized or not, is the result of multiple factors at the communitarian and regional levels and differ throughout space and time. Shackleton  asserts that the existence of markets for forest resources does not guarantee the conservation of a species. González-Insuasti et al.  demonstrated that for one community in the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Valley, an important factor in the survival of species is type of land use. Undoubtedly, social organization at all scales will be indispensable in constructing agreements about the utilization and preservation of the land and its resources. Documenting and implementing local people’s traditional knowledge and management techniques nay have a significant impact on governmental programs for sustainable use of native resources . The diversity of ecosystems and human cultures in the Tehuacán Valley, and the long history of their interaction have contributed to the broad spectrum of forms of use and management of edible plants species. In this context, the traditional markets studied are a biocultural memory of the region [49, 50].
The existence of various human cultures, their distinct culinary costumes, the variable range of socioeconomic situations, the differential availability and forms of access to resources, help to understand that management of plant resources at each location depends on multiple factors that need to be analyzed particularly for species and communitarian contexts. The better our understanding of the use of plants destined for the market, the more precise would be our capacity for identifying the most effective strategies for the conservation of a species and the ecological richness.
Our study identified those interchanged edible plant species under more risk or more vulnerable, such as Ceiba aesculifolia subsp. parvifolia, Jatropha neopauciflora, Dasylirion serratifolium, and columnar cacti Neobuxbamia tetetzo, Pachycereus weberi and Myrtillocactus geometrizans. These plant species require specific ecological studies to know their current situation, abundance, reproductive biology, demography, among other topics. Also, specific studies about their management and socioeconomic factors affecting their populations. For each plant species mentioned is required taking actions to encourage the conservation according to the magnitude of the problem, hopefully constructing programs generated jointly between villagers, government, social organizations and scholars for protection and sustainable use of plant resources.
YA main author, involved in the study design, conducting of interview, field work, literature review and general data collection and systematization, wrote the first draft and concluded the final version this paper. AC main coordinator-supervisor of the research project; contributed with original data and the designing of all the researches providing the information for the current analysis; participated in fieldwork, systematization and analysis of data and reviewed several drafts of the manuscript. AA designed part of study methods, participated in compilation and analysis of literature review, reviewed and modified the first and final draft versions of the manuscript. EV suggested performed statistical analysis, teaming with YA and AC. JB, MV, IT, SR, AIM, EPN, LS, CL conducted ethnobotanical and ecological studies of plant resources in different communities and regions of the Tehuacán Valley, participated in several workshops providing original information for the data analysis. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
The autors thank the Instituto Tecnológico de Oaxaca, Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología CONACYT, and DGAPA, UNAM for PhD and posdoc grants of the first author. The Programa de Apoyo a Proyectos de Investigación e Innovación Tecnológica (PAPIIT IN219608) and CONACYT (CB-2008-01- 103551) for financial support of research. Dr. Ellen Hobbler reviewed a preliminary version of the manuscript. We emphatically thank sellers of the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Valley for their participation in interviews and sharing their knowledge.
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