Despite the dramatic landscape changes Mexico has undergone due to the introduction of cattle ranching by the Spaniards in the early sixteenth century, the ecological origins of that pastroecosystem have remained obscure. About 1521, Gregorio de Villalobos implanted an Andalusian-derived herding ecology in the Gulf Coast lowlands that involved seasonal movement of cattle between wetlands and hill lands. Land-grant records demonstrate that as the colonial economy expanded, the transhumant model proliferated and came into conflict with those native settlements that had survived the pandemics of the early sixteenth century. In circumventing viceregal laws meant to protect native cultures and ecologies, ranchers prevented their recovery; the consequences persist to the present.
Keywords: cattle, landscape ecology, native depopulation, New Spain, Veracruz.
DR. SLUYTER is an assistant professor of geography at the Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802.
To contact the author:
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