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Publications - Occasional Papers

Geoecology of Southern Highland Peru: A Human Adaptation Perspective

INSTAAR Occasional Paper 27

1978, 91 pp. (cost: $5)

[From the Introduction] The monograph that follows is a discussion of the high-altitude, mountainous environment in southern Peru. Geology, climate, soils, and natural and domesticated biota will be considered. Initially our description will be of the central Andes as a region and of the complex gradients of climate and vegetation, which cross this area northwest to southeast and northeast to southwest. These gradients then provide the environmental context for more detailed treatment of a limited geographic area surrounding the town of Nuñoa (Melgar Province, Department of Puno), an example of the highland region, or altiplano.

Since a full discussion of our topic is clearly impossible, we have attempted to partition the information we can present. Emphasis in the text will be on the complex set of interacting factors that combine to form an environment multiply heterogeneous in time, space, and pattern. The preponderance of descriptive data will be found in figures and graphs. We have also attempted to balance the presentation of normative data, which provide a general picture of an environment, with data representing environmental variability. The relative extremes of environmental variables are often critical in the study of adaptation. Where environmental factors are treated as stressors we will be concerned with their frequency, intensity, duration, and regularity, and with the effect of these parameters on the variety of adaptive responses available to plants and animals. This review of highland environment and general biotic adaptation to the highland zone sets the context for the detailed treatment of human adaptation.

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