Changing indigenous cultures, economies and landscapes: The case of the Tsimane', Bolivian Amazon

Irene Pérez-Llorente, Jaime Paneque-Gálvez, Ana C. Luz, Manuel J. Macía, Maximilien Guèze, Jose A. Domínguez-Gómez, Victoria Reyes-García, Joan Pino Vilalta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Habitat fragmentation and habitat loss are two of the primary causes of biodiversity loss worldwide. There is abundant literature addressing the factors driving habitat loss and fragmentation in the Amazon basin, yet little is known of how cultural and economic changes may be related to landscape change. In this paper, we present a case study of the Tsimane', an indigenous society native to the Bolivian Amazon, to evaluate the relationship between Tsimane' cultural and economic change and the levels of fragmentation and habitat loss in the landscape surrounding their villages. Socioeconomic and cultural data were collected through household surveys (n=778), and landscape metrics for each village (n=59) were derived from a classified Landsat satellite image. We performed spatial analyses and multivariate regressions to study the associations between social and landscape data. Our results suggest that although habitat fragmentation and habitat loss are relatively low in the studied villages, economic change and, to a lesser extent, cultural change mediate transformations in the landscape. To foster both biocultural conservation and the well-being of indigenous people, economic alternatives to intensive land uses should be promoted, considering the needs and institutional arrangements of the Tsimane'. This article provides a novel approach to further our, understanding of the way cultural and economic changes within an indigenous group can lead to various landscape patterns. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-157
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013


  • Acculturation
  • Biocultural diversity
  • Habitat fragmentation
  • Habitat loss
  • Integration into the market economy


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