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Birds and beans: Comparing avian richness and endemism in arabica and robusta agroforests in India's Western Ghats.


ABSTRACT: Coffee is a major tropical commodity crop that can provide supplementary habitat for native wildlife. In Asia, coffee production is an increasingly important driver of landscape transformation and shifts between different coffee species is a major dimension of agroforestry trends. Yet few studies have compared the ecological impacts of conversion between different coffee species. We evaluated whether or not the two species of coffee grown globally-Coffea arabica and C. canephora (denoted "robusta")-had equivalent avian conservation value in the Western Ghats, India, where robusta production has become increasingly dominant. We found that habitat specialist and functional guild diversity was higher in arabica, and that arabica was more profitable. However, robusta farms generally supported the same or slightly higher abundances of habitat specialists and functional guilds, largely due to dense canopy and landscape-level forest cover. Farming practices, chiefly pesticide use, may affect the suitability of coffee agroforests as habitat for avian specialists, and at present, robusta farmers tended to use less pesticide. Given future projections for arabica to robusta conversion in tropical Asia, our study indicates that certification efforts should prioritize maintaining native canopy shade trees and forest cover to ensure that coffee landscapes can continue providing biodiversity benefits.

SUBMITTER: Chang CH 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC5816607 | BioStudies | 2018-01-01T00:00:00Z

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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