Niche breadth and redundancy: Useful indices to analyse fuelwood use in rural communities (ScienceDirect Publication: Journal of Arid Environments)

Publication date: Available online 30 May 2017
Source:Journal of Arid Environments
Author(s): María Betina Cardoso, Ana Haydée Ladio, Mariana Lozada
In this work, the concepts of niche breadth and redundancy were used to analyse the use of fuelwood species in rural populations in Patagonia, Argentina. We conducted semi-structured interviews to estimate the fuel niche breadth (FNB). For this, the variables used were as follows: use consensus of native species, use consensus of preferred species and use consensus of pruning species. Moreover, two indices were created to compare socio-environmental fuel redundancy and economic dependence between populations. The most isolated population presented the highest values for FNB, considering principally the use consensus of native species and high environmental redundancy, while the community with most access to urban centres showed the highest FNB value for use consensus of pruning species. The third community presented intermediate values for FNB and low levels of redundancy, showing notable vulnerability. The FNB measured through fuelwood use contributes to the description of socio-ecological factors. Evaluation of redundancy in terms of a resource and its different functional varieties, while not focusing in particular on the functionality of the species, allows the evaluation of the current situation of the resource under study. The indices created in this work can also be used for other variables related to subsistence lifestyles.