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Literature Cited ABSTRACT Biocultural keystone species have been suggested for different societies, but there has been little empirical evaluation of their role in the face of rapid socio-environmental changes. The Aymara people of northern Chile have experienced historical and contemporary processes that have modified their culture and relationship with nature. The Andean Condor Vultur gryphus has ly been proposed as a biocultural keystone species for traditional Andean societies. Our indicate a nonarticulated set of information that can be identified as knowledge about the Andean Condor but is patchy and resembles relics, rather than an ongoing body of TEK that includes daily practices, social institutions, and a worldview shaped by the putative biocultural keystone species.
We suggest that, today, the condor can hardly be considered a biocultural keystone species for the Aymara people of northern Chile. Our study highlights that the role of putative biocultural keystone species is dependent on the vagaries of historical and contemporary socio-environmental processes occurring in the Andes and elsewhere. The maintenance of a biocultural relationship depends on the intergenerational transmission of knowledge.
This set of information is referred to as traditional ecological knowledge TEK and is a cumulative body of knowledge corpuspractices praxisand beliefs kosmos that is generated, transmitted, and modified in response to socio-environmental changes Berkes et al. Multiple nested and interrelated levels of TEK include a empirical situated knowledge of animals, plants, and their habitats, e.
Time is needed for TEK to evolve organically as people find new ways of responding to new challenges and changing socio-environmental circumstances Maffi and Dilts This is a process that involves cognitive and affective learning as individuals refine their TEK through accumulated historical, socially shared, and individual experiences. Adaptation of TEK to socio-environmental changes is, thus, the result of a combination of synergic operators that are embedded in the social fabric Berkes et al.
The importance that a species has for a particular society is reflected in its biocultural ificance in cultural domains, e. Ibarra et al.
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This importance is related to the multiple uses of the species and feee way in which it is known and perceived. In this nonstatic relationship, some species have more biocultural importance than others and stand out for their prominent role in structuring the society with respect to the environment. It is predicted that the loss of biocultural keystone species or variations in their availability can drastically affect the human communities that relate to them Garibaldi and TurnerEllen loocal studies have explored how historical, political, and ecological forces have irretrievably reduced populations of biocultural keystone species and, as a consequence, affected local livelihoods Costanza et al.
However, little is known about how these socio-environmental factors can divert the interest of an indigenous people chhat from a species chatt considered a biocultural keystone species. In Chile, it is classified as vulnerable in the north and center of the country and as rare in the south, except for the far south where it is common SAG Generally speaking, the population of condors in South America is shrinking, loca the principal threats including habitat degradation, illegal hunting, poisoning, and lack of food BirdLife International Vree playing key ecological roles in terrestrial communities Lambertucci et al.
Archaeology, ethnohistory, music, poetry, and literature all testify to its symbolic ificance. Some symbolically predominant representations can be found in most of the cultural domains of the societies that wndes inhabited the Andes as is described in, for example, PalmaGordilloRozzi et al. This led Ibarra et al. The Aymara people is the main pre-Columbian culture of the Andean territories where the borders of Peru, Bolivia, and Chile now meet.
Its ethnozoology gives a privileged position to some animal species and is largely shared fee other earlier and contemporary Andean cultures such as those of the Quechua, Tiwanaku, and Inca Palma Archaeological and early ethnographic research in northern Chile described the prominent roles played by the condor for the Aymara people. According to GrebeMallku kunturi identified the condor as the bird with the greatest authority among its peers and indicated its sacred nature the name condor comes from the Aymara and Quechua word kuntur.
Grebe described how, together with the eagle, the condor connected the three worlds of the Aymara worldview through its flight.
Valenzuela et al. Over the past century, the Aymara have experienced socio-environmental processes that have influenced their identity and relationship with nature. This could also affect the transmission of TEK because the new generations live in socio-environmental contexts different from those of their ancestors. The research presented here assesses the current relevance of viewing the condor as a biocultural keystone species for the Aymara people from the high Andes of northern Chile.
For this, we implemented an ethnographic study that has been little used for explicitly assessing the role of biocultural keystone species in traditional societies. Ethnography can provide in-depth insights into rational and emotional connection with species and landscapes, along with the day-to-day expression of TEK. We hypothesized that the current relationship between the Andean Condor and the Aymara people of the high Andes of northern Chile reflects marked historical and contemporary socio-environmental changes in the Aymara territory.
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The study demonstrates the usefulness of ethnographic methods for empirical and in-depth evaluation of the relevance of the concept of biocultural keystone species in traditional societies. In altitude, it varies from the coast to volcanoes that reach over meters above sea chaf m a. Administratively, the region is divided into two provinces, each of which comprises two municipal districts. The Parinacota Province includes the Andes foothills, the high Andean plateau, and the mountains themselves.
Migration in search of better economic conditions has reduced the population, principally the case of the Andean plateau where settlements now often have no more than 10 inhabitants. The town of Putre, located in the municipal district of the same name, has an estimated inhabitants Census. The population is concentrated mainly at an altitude between and m a. In these fre, remaining Aymara people practice small-scale agriculture lcal the form of crop terraces and domestic camelid husbandry.
The first stage of the work consisted in obtaining free prior informed consent, achieving insertion into the Low community, identifying its social groups, and getting to know local authorities.
This permitted identification of the main social lcal where perceptions of the Andean Condor and relationship andew it could potentially be explored. With the help of the local authorities, we identified different socio-cultural groups in the study area according to such as age e. Based on the conversations that took place during the loz stage, we refined the thematic loe used in further semistructured interviews and as a thematic guide for the ethnographic study Bernard We interviewed authorities and other people identified as key participants during the first stage, e.
Thirty-four During the focus groups, we encouraged and facilitated a group conversation about the condor and the socio-environmental changes that had occurred in the territory. Because most interviews were often long conversations that took cat during working activities, the semistructured questionnaire was always completed with each participant, but questions were not always asked in the same order. The information was compiled mainly in the form of field notes that were systematized and tabulated to identify points of consensus and dissent; we then carried out thematic analyses Bernard Because this was an ethnographic study, situational analytical annotations were included in field notebooks, indicating the context, the emotional situation, and the linking of themes.
We also analyzed individual or group discourses Newing ; the oos were obtained during the focus groups. The analytical annotations of the discursive context meant that not only answers were recorded but also the hesitations and insecurities that, along with other elements, are not necessarily expressed verbally Bernard To understand spatial knowledge about the distribution and ecology of condors, a map of the area was used as a backup in semistructured interviews, although only when the interviewee felt comfortable with it.
Spatial references were systematized to identify possible patterns of spatial knowledge about the areas occupied by condors or relevant cultural sites associated with the species. All spatial references were tabulated and grouped according to their precision, generating information on different spatial scales. The most accurate references, i.
For this mapping, we used ArcMap The political-administrative division of the region, its natural protected areas, road and water networks, toponymy, and populated sites were aneds superimposed on this map. Our ethnographic research reveals a nonarticulated set of information that can be identified as knowledge about the Andean Condor but is patchy and resembles relics, rather than an ongoing complex of TEK.
Information about the species as such andee, biology, and distribution was more abundant and a matter of loccal agreement than articulated biocultural memory of practices, social institutions, and a worldview associated with this species.
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The local image of the condor is currently a patchwork of mostly unconnected pieces but, from the social group, it was possible to build a picture of what it has represented as an Aymara symbol. The mallku the authority or divinity-bird fades but admiration for the condor persists. Notions about condor identification, biology, and distribution The main consensus ideas found were 1 the condor is a long-lived species, which was often related to its lifestyle as represented by its calm and constant gliding and to its habitat in the high mountains, away from the fast dynamics of the world.
There is consensus that this is the case only of the adult male, reinforcing its power over its mate and in the flock. In myths and fables, it interacts with fauna as an exemplary leader, a remnant of the mallku concept see details below.
The andean condor as bird, authority, and devil: an empirical assessment of the biocultural keystone species concept in the high andes of chile
The inhabitants of Andes foothills could not, in general, exactly identify the places where condors live. Instead, they referred to relatively extensive sectors such as the Andean plateau, particularly the area around Guallatire. They also reported that condors move down to the foothills during the day, particularly to Socoroma and Putre Fig. Specific places were mentioned principally by elderly men, but did not follow a general loss.
Notions about condor ecology and distribution were a mixture of what has been transmitted by others and the knowledge acquired through personal experience. Inhabitants of the Andean plateau were more precise in identifying places, naming gorges close to their homes and even reporting nests of condors. Among them, there were three recurrent ideas: 1 condors live in the mountains and on volcanoes because they are known for their resilience to harsh climatic conditions; 2 condors live in mysterious and somber places, far from the world of people, which are difficult to access; 3 condors are more common on the Andean plateau than in the foothills, locak are regularly distinguished as adjacent but different landscapes, each with their own fauna.
Condors move through both landscapes but belong principally to the plateau. Local residents generally indicated that condors were most common during the period of livestock reproduction. Older people recalled constant encounters with condors during their youth when they could be a danger. Among adults and the elderly, there is consensus that the s and s marked an inflection point in the condor population.
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Its decline was attributed principally to variation in the ungulate population main carrion source and, possibly, climate change. With regard to human beings, the condor is represented as a threat, particularly to young women, transmitting the dangers of being out in the countryside alone. These stories also reflect the idea that, in olden times, animals and people could be the same beings who changed form. In these cases, the condor appears fre a well-dressed man with power.
The condor is believed to have one white and one red eye or, in a variant, tears from one eye are white and, from the other, red or blood. In the latter case, this is explained as a of the great pain the condor can feel and transmit, which is also represented by its solitary flight. Similar murals can also be seen in shops related to tourism and services.
The condor appears mostly as a symbolic icon that represents the Andean landscape and culture. An important part of the murals are the result of projects external to the community, but some were deed with the participation of local inhabitants. This dynamic is also seen in other artistic expressions as, for example, in dance when, at carnival time, Arica represents the Andean imaginary, creating expectations about what ought to happen in the traditional rural world.
Ritual In the study area, the only manifestation of occupation of space in displaying the image of the condor that has persisted as a tradition involves a natural sculpture, the Condor Stone. Inhabitants of all the Parinacota Province refer to it, but only those from nearby towns know its location and name. The shape of the rock, which sdx the result of erosion by the wind and water, resembles a condor opening its semiextended wings Fig.
Its head is supported by a long curved neck that emerges from a rock that serves as a table for offerings. In a chuspa, a traditional woven bag, surrounded by colored streamers, there are a of banknotes and, at the bottom, coca leaves. The offerings are mostly coins, some Chilean and some foreign, that are no longer legal tender and have been intentionally saved for this purpose because they bear the image of a condor Fig.
The ritual consists of challar to make an offering with alcohol and carnival elements to the sculpture on the eve of the feast of the Virgin of the Remedies of Timalchaca 8 December. Participants in this ritual indicated that they did so only to follow the tradition.