, Volume 69, Issue 3, pp 175-182
Date: 28 Jan 2007

Abandonement of coffee agroforests increases insect abundance and diversity

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Abstract

Shade coffee including many tree species is known to support generally high biodiversity. Due to low coffee prices on the world market, many farmers have abandoned their farms, thereby creating a new ecosystem type, which has attracted increasing interest for biodiversity conservation. Here we used pyrethrum knockdown samples to compare the arthropod community on coffee plants of six traditionally managed coffee agroforests with those of six abandoned coffee agroforests in coastal Ecuador. We investigated eight randomly selected coffee shrubs per site, six of them inside and two at the edge. All arthropods were identified to orders and beetles to morphospecies. We additionally sampled the vegetation to test for vegetation-mediated effects on the arthropod community. The number of arthropod individuals was higher in abandoned than managed coffee, driven by the abundance of Arachnida, Blattaria, and Heteroptera, and higher in the edge than in the centre of the abandoned agroforests. Higher arthropod abundance appeared to be closely related to arthropod diversity, as shown for beetles (r = 0.79, n = 96). Contrary to expectations, predator-prey ratios in managed agroforests was as high as in the abandoned ones. In conclusion, abandonment of coffee agroforests greatly encourages arthropod communities, in particular in the habitat edges, and therefore, should be considered in landscape management for conservation.