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Through Amazonian Eyes

The Human Ecology of Amazonian Populations

Emilio F. Moran

Publication Year: 1993

In this well-written, comprehensive, reasonable yet passionate volume, Emilio Moran introduces us to the range of human and ecological diversity in the Amazon Basin. By describing the complex heterogeneity on the Amazon's ecological mosaic and its indigenous populations' conscious adaptations to this diversity, he leads us to realize that there are strategies of resource use which do not destroy the structure and function of ecosystems. Finally, and most important, he examines ways in which we might benefit from the study of human ecology to design and implement a balance between conservation and use.

Published by: University of Iowa Press

Contents, Tables, Figures

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pp. vii-xii

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pp. xiii-xvi

Since 1985 citizens all over the planet have become concerned with the fate of the Amazonian tropical forests. After many years of scholarly research on changes taking place in the Amazon Basin, the media finally began to give headlines to the images from satellites and scholarly analyses and to recognize the scale of the problem, reaching a peak in 1987 when ...

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pp. xvii-xxi

This book appeared in an earlier form in Portuguese (Aecologia humana das populacoes da Amazonia, published by Edit6ra Vozes of Brazil in October 1990). In preparing the English revised edition, I have taken the opportunity to update the book. Although I normally write my books and articles in English, rather than in Spanish or Portuguese, I wrote this one in ...

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1. Amazonia: People and Environment

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pp. 1-34

The Amazon's ecosystems and their native populations are threatened with extinction today. Deforestation, epidemic diseases, inappropriate development policies, and a lack of regard for the quality of life on our planet can be listed among the forces responsible for the current situation. The changes that deforestation of the greatest rain forest on earth might ...

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2. Blackwater Ecosystems

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pp. 35-56

The stereotype of the Amazon as an environment characterized by soils too poor and acid to sustain cultivation for more than a year or two holds most true in what are known as blackwater river watersheds. Black water rivers can vary a great deal in growing conditions, 1 but in their more extreme forms they are among the poorest in the world. In nutrient content ...

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3. Upland Forests

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pp. 57-84

Amazonian upland forests constitute one of the richest terrestrial ecosystems in the biosphere, with the greatest accumulations of species and plant biomass on the planet. This is the area that has been experiencing the most devastating rates of deforestation ever recorded in human history already amounting to over 500,000 square kilometers (Mahar I988). While ...

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4. Floodplains

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pp. 85-116

Classifying an area as a floodplain can mislead us either to overestimate or to underestimate the agricultural and biological potential of these ecosystems. Any discussion about the human adaptive strategies found in Amazonian floodplains must differentiate, minimally, between three types of floodplains or varzeas: the upper floodplain, the lower floodplain, and ...

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5. Savannas

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pp. 117-140

The upland savannas are characterized by two distinct and strongly marked seasons, each about six months in duration. These areas, known as cerrado in Brazil and as llanos in Colombia and Venezuela, have considerable differences in hydrologic conditions. The llanos are commonly poorly drained, whereas the cerrados are more often than not well-drained. ...

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6. Human Ecology as a Critique of Development

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pp. 141-162

The field of human ecology emerged, in part, in response to the growing specialization of contemporary science. Sociologists talk about environment, but they largely refer to the institutional setting within which people in organizations operate. Psychologists talk about environment, but they may refer to the household setting within which nurturing occurs. All ...


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pp. 163-168


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pp. 169-226

Index, Back Cover

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pp. 227-231

E-ISBN-13: 9781587291579

Publication Year: 1993