Ecology of the Region
The Khosko Toro mountain is at the extreme east of the broader Cordillera Real, formed by a series of massive, longitudinal mountains arranged in a north-south direction (Figure 6.1). To the west runs the Guapay (or Grande) River, and to the east, the Parapeti watercourse. Ecologically, this region is part of the humid and temperate mountain forest. To the south extends the dry Chaco, and to the north, the tropical savannas. Due to the temperate conditions, the vegetation is rich and diverse, comprising
Figure 6.1. Region of Khosko Toro showing the main ecological zones (Bolivian Chaco). The map also shows the ancient settlements located in the survey.
valuable trees such as cedar, walnut, and laurel, along with medicinal plants like motacu, maguey, and toboroche. Corn, citrus, and peanuts are also common to the region (Montes de Oca 1989:425-426). Hydrologically, the Khosko Toro mountain is part of the Azero River subbasin, an important component of the Great Amazonian basin. In comparison to
Oroncota, the annual water supply is relatively stable (Cortes R. 1994). Because the region has subhumid weather conditions, it does not suffer from a water accumulation deficit (Cortes R. 1994).
Following the altitudinal spectrum, the Khosko Toro region is characterized by four ecological niches (Montes de Oca 1989:425) (Figure 6.1). In the upper mountains is the first niche, formed by the thick-canopied cloudy forest (locally known as monte alto). Immediately below is the lower mountain zone as the second niche (or monte bajo), encompassing a range of shrubs and trees. In this area, deep cliffs and ravines dramatically dissect the rugged topography. The third niche comprises the lower eastern alluvium valley on the foothills, sitting along main river courses like Manchachi. As a result, this zone is optimal for agriculture. Local Quechua communities use this zone to farm a variety of crops (for example, corn, peanuts, vegetables, and citrus fruits) for the regional markets. The fourth zone is in the western lower flanks of the Khosko Toro mountain. It is formed by a relatively plain expanse of land between the Pucara and Huasa Monte Rivers, and because of the cooler conditions, it is dominated by shrubs and grassland (Mendez Mendivil and Asebey Morales 1994). This area is suitable for growing corn and potatoes. In this spectrum, the Cuzcotuyo complex is strategically located in a small western depression of the upper Khosko Toro mountain. It is placed in the thick-canopied forest zone.