, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 139-155

Effects of Management Intensity and Season on Arboreal Ant Diversity and Abundance in Coffee Agroecosystems

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Abstract

Agricultural intensification decreases arthropod predator diversity, abundance and population stability, and may affect interactions between top predators and their arthropod prey – ultimately affecting ecosystem services. Coffee management intensification (reduction or removal of shade trees) reduces diversity of arthropod predators (ground-foraging ants). Because ants provide ecosystem services by controlling pests, influences of intensification on arboreal, coffee-foraging ant diversity and abundance are important. We here address how coffee intensification affects: (1) coffee-foraging ant diversity and abundance and (2) seasonal fluctuations in ant abundance. In each of four coffee sites of varying management intensity in Chiapas, Mexico, we sampled vegetation and using two methods, sampled ant diversity and abundance over two years. Sites significantly differed in vegetation and management intensity. Coffee-foraging ant diversity generally decreased with increasing management intensity (16–26% fewer species observed in the most intensively-managed site). Ant abundance was higher in the wet season. Management intensity, however, did not influence ant abundance or seasonal fluctuations in abundance. Our results highlight the importance of diverse agricultural systems in maintaining arthropod predator diversity, and point to one model system in which we may effectively test how diversity per se affects ecosystem services.