The Brahmaputra is the largest river system in northeast India. Its valley, in the State of Assam, is home to the Assamese people, indigenous Mishing and Karbi tribes, and Kaziranga National Park. A spectacular array of wildlife shares the floodplain including the endangered Asian elephant, tiger, one-horned rhinoceros and wild buffalo. The fertile floodplain and tea estates have attracted immigrants from within India and from neighboring countries. Migration has been linked to Assam's high population density and agriculture expansion. Based on household surveys in 37 villages in the park's periphery, we compared home garden productivity and economic return among residents and immigrants of different ethnic groups and explored the hypothesis that residents had an advantage over immigrants in maximizing gains from home gardens resources. The results indicated that, although resident home gardens were larger, production from immigrant home gardens was over four times higher and their economic returns were greater. Immigrants, who tended to live in low-lying areas close to the park and whose land tenure was less certain, were at higher risk of crop damage by wildlife and floods. They compensated in part by maximizing productivity of home gardens and by choosing crops that yielded greater economic return. We conclude that home gardens provide a basis for distinguishing between resident and immigrant land use practices.