The conservation value of cacao agroforestry for bird functional diversity in tropical agricultural landscapes.
ABSTRACT: Cacao agroforestry have been considered as biodiversity-friendly farming practices by maintaining habitats for a high diversity of species in tropical landscapes. However, little information is available to evaluate whether this agrosystem can maintain functional diversity, given that agricultural changes can affect the functional components, but not the taxonomic one (e.g., species richness). Thus, considering functional traits improve the understanding of the agricultural impacts on biodiversity. Here, we measured functional diversity (functional richness-FD, functional evenness-FEve, and functional divergence-Rao) and taxonomic diversity (species richness and Simpson index) to evaluate changes of bird diversity in cacao agroforestry in comparison with nearby mature forests (old-growth forests) in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. We used data from two landscapes with constraining areas of mature forest (49% Una and 4.8% Ilhéus) and cacao agroforestry cover (6% and 82%, respectively). To remove any bias of species richness and to evaluate assembly processes (functional overdispersion or clustering), all functional indices were adjusted using null models. Our analyses considered the entire community, as well as separately for forest specialists, habitat generalists, and birds that contribute to seed dispersal (frugivores/granivores) or invertebrate removal (insectivores). Our findings showed that small cacao agroforestry in the forested landscape sustains functional diversity (FD and FEve) as diverse as nearby forests when considering the entire community, forest specialist, and habitat generalists. However, we observed declines for frugivores/granivores and insectivores (FD and Rao). These responses of bird communities differed from those observed by taxonomic diversity, suggesting that even species-rich communities in agroforestry may capture lower functional diversity. Furthermore, communities in both landscapes showed either functional clustering or neutral processes as the main driver of functional assembly. Functional clustering may indicate that local conditions and resources were changed or lost, while neutral assemblies may reveal high functional redundancy at the landscape scale. In Ilhéus, the neutral assembly predominance suggests an effect of functional homogenization between habitats. Thus, the conservation value of cacao agroforestry to harbor species-rich communities and ecosystem functions relies on smallholder production with reduced farm management in a forested landscape. Finally, we emphasize that seed dispersers and insectivores should be the priority conservation targets in cacao systems.
Project description:Riparian ecosystems are suffering anthropogenic threats that reduce biodiversity and undermine ecosystem services. However, there is a great deal of uncertainty about the way species composition of assemblages is related to ecosystem function, especially in a landscape fragmentation context.Here, we assess the impact of habitat loss and disturbance on Functional Diversity (FD) components Functional Redundancy (FRed), Functional Evenness (FEve), and Functional Richness (FRic) of riparian forest bird assemblages to evaluate (a) how FD components respond to riparian forest width reduction and vegetation disturbance; (b) the existence of thresholds within these relationships; (c) which of the main birds diet guild (frugivores, insectivores, and omnivores) respond to such thresholds. We predict that FD components will be affected negatively and nonlinearly by riparian changes. However, guilds could have different responses due to differences of species sensitivity to fragmentation and disturbance. We expect to find thresholds in FD responses, because fragmentation and disturbance drive loss of specific FD components.Our results show that FRed and FEve were linearly affected by width and disturbance of riparian habitats, respectively. FRed was significantly lower in riparian forests assemblages below 400 m wide, and FEve was significantly higher above 60% disturbance. These responses of FD were also followed to the decline in insectivores and frugivores richness in riparian forests most affected by these changes.Consequently, our study suggests communities do not tolerate reduction in riparian forest width or disturbance intensification without negative impact on FD, and this becomes more critical for riparian area <400-m wide or with more than 60% disturbance. This minimum riparian width required to maintain FRed is greater than the minimum width required for riparian forests by Brazilian law. Thus, it is important to consider mechanisms to expand riparian habitats and reduce the disturbance intensity in riparian forests so that riparian bird community FD may be effectively conserved.
Project description:Cacao (Theobroma cacao L.) is one of the most economically important crops worldwide. Despite the important role of endophytes for plant growth and health, very little is known about the effect of agroforestry management systems on the endophyte communities of T. cacao. To close this knowledge gap, we investigated the diversity, community composition, and function of bacterial and fungal endophytes in the leaves of T. cacao trees growing in five major cacao-growing regions in the central region of Cameroon using DNA metabarcoding. Fungal but not bacterial alpha diversity measures differed significantly between the agroforestry management systems. Interestingly, less managed home-garden cacao forests harbored the lowest fungal richness and diversity. Our results suggest that the composition of bacterial and fungal endophyte communities is predominantly affected by agroforestry management systems and, to a lesser extent, by environmental properties. The core microbiome detected comprised important fungal phytopathogens, such as Lasiodiplodia species. Several predicted pathways of bacterial endophytes and functional guilds of fungal endophytes differed between the agroforest systems which might be attributed to bacteria and fungi specifically associated with a single agroforest. Our results provide the basis for future studies on foliar fungal and bacterial endophytes of T. cacao and their responsiveness towards agroforestry management systems.
Project description:The functional diversity of a community can influence ecosystem functioning and reflects assembly processes. The large number of disparate metrics used to quantify functional diversity reflects the range of attributes underlying this concept, generally summarized as functional richness, functional evenness, and functional divergence. However, in practice, we know very little about which attributes drive which ecosystem functions, due to a lack of field-based tests. Here we test the association between eight leading functional diversity metrics (Rao's Q, FD, FDis, FEve, FDiv, convex hull volume, and species and functional group richness) that emphasize different attributes of functional diversity, plus 11 extensions of these existing metrics that incorporate heterogeneous species abundances and trait variation. We assess the relationships among these metrics and compare their performances for predicting three key ecosystem functions (above- and belowground biomass and light capture) within a long-term grassland biodiversity experiment. Many metrics were highly correlated, although unique information was captured in FEve, FDiv, and dendrogram-based measures (FD) that were adjusted by abundance. FD adjusted by abundance outperformed all other metrics in predicting both above- and belowground biomass, although several others also performed well (e.g. Rao's Q, FDis, FDiv). More generally, trait-based richness metrics and hybrid metrics incorporating multiple diversity attributes outperformed evenness metrics and single-attribute metrics, results that were not changed when combinations of metrics were explored. For light capture, species richness alone was the best predictor, suggesting that traits for canopy architecture would be necessary to improve predictions. Our study provides a comprehensive test linking different attributes of functional diversity with ecosystem function for a grassland system.
Project description:Losses of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning due to rainforest destruction and agricultural intensification are prime concerns for science and society alike. Potentially, ecosystems show nonlinear responses to land-use intensification that would open management options with limited ecological losses but satisfying economic gains. However, multidisciplinary studies to quantify ecological losses and socioeconomic tradeoffs under different management options are rare. Here, we evaluate opposing land use strategies in cacao agroforestry in Sulawesi, Indonesia, by using data on species richness of nine plant and animal taxa, six related ecosystem functions, and on socioeconomic drivers of agroforestry expansion. Expansion of cacao cultivation by 230% in the last two decades was triggered not only by economic market mechanisms, but also by rarely considered cultural factors. Transformation from near-primary forest to agroforestry had little effect on overall species richness, but reduced plant biomass and carbon storage by approximately 75% and species richness of forest-using species by approximately 60%. In contrast, increased land use intensity in cacao agroforestry, coupled with a reduction in shade tree cover from 80% to 40%, caused only minor quantitative changes in biodiversity and maintained high levels of ecosystem functioning while doubling farmers' net income. However, unshaded systems further increased income by approximately 40%, implying that current economic incentives and cultural preferences for new intensification practices put shaded systems at risk. We conclude that low-shade agroforestry provides the best available compromise between economic forces and ecological needs. Certification schemes for shade-grown crops may provide a market-based mechanism to slow down current intensification trends.
Project description:Managing ecosystems for carbon storage may also benefit biodiversity conservation, but such a potential 'win-win' scenario has not yet been assessed for tropical agroforestry landscapes. We measured above- and below-ground carbon stocks as well as the species richness of four groups of plants and eight of animals on 14 representative plots in Sulawesi, Indonesia, ranging from natural rainforest to cacao agroforests that have replaced former natural forest. The conversion of natural forests with carbon stocks of 227-362 Mg C ha(-1) to agroforests with 82-211 Mg C ha(-1) showed no relationships to overall biodiversity but led to a significant loss of forest-related species richness. We conclude that the conservation of the forest-related biodiversity, and to a lesser degree of carbon stocks, mainly depends on the preservation of natural forest habitats. In the three most carbon-rich agroforestry systems, carbon stocks were about 60% of those of natural forest, suggesting that 1.6 ha of optimally managed agroforest can contribute to the conservation of carbon stocks as much as 1 ha of natural forest. However, agroforestry systems had comparatively low biodiversity, and we found no evidence for a tight link between carbon storage and biodiversity. Yet, potential win-win agroforestry management solutions include combining high shade-tree quality which favours biodiversity with cacao-yield adapted shade levels.
Project description:Tropical forest conversion to pasture, which drives greenhouse gas emissions, soil degradation, and biodiversity loss, remains a pressing socio-ecological challenge. This problem has spurred increased interest in the potential of small-scale agroforestry systems to couple sustainable agriculture with biodiversity conservation, particularly in rapidly developing areas of the tropics. In addition to providing natural resources (i.e. food, medicine, lumber), agroforestry systems have the potential to maintain higher levels of biodiversity and greater biomass than lower diversity crop or pasture systems. Greater plant diversity may also enhance soil quality, further supporting agricultural productivity in nutrient-limited tropical systems. Yet, the nature of these relationships remains equivocal. To better understand how different land use strategies impact ecosystem services, we characterized the relationships between plant diversity (including species richness, phylogenetic diversity, and natural resource diversity), and soil quality within pasture, agroforests, and secondary forests, three common land use types maintained by small-scale farmers in the Pearl Lagoon Basin, Nicaragua. The area is undergoing accelerated globalization following the 2007 completion of the region's first major road; a change which is expected to increase forest conversion for agriculture. However, farmer agrobiodiversity maintenance in the Basin was previously found to be positively correlated with affiliation to local agricultural NGOs through the maintenance of agroforestry systems, despite these farmers residing in the communities closest to the new road, highlighting the potential for maintaining diverse agroforestry agricultural strategies despite heightened globalization pressures. We found that agroforestry sites tended to have higher surface soil %C, %N, and pH relative to neighboring to secondary forest, while maintaining comparable plant diversity. In contrast, pasture reduced species richness, phylogenetic diversity, and natural resource diversity. No significant relationships were found between plant diversity and the soil properties assessed; however higher species richness and phylodiversity was positively correlated with natural resource diversity. These finding suggest that small, diversified agroforestry systems may be a viable strategy for promoting both social and ecological functions in eastern Nicaragua and other rapidly developing areas of the tropics.
Project description:Restoration is essential for supporting key ecosystem functions such as aboveground biomass production. However, the relative importance of functional versus taxonomic diversity in predicting aboveground biomass during restoration is poorly studied. Here, we used a trait-based approach to test for the importance of multiple plant diversity attributes in regulating aboveground biomass in a 30-years-old restored subtropical forest in southern China. We show that both taxonomic and functional diversities are significant and positive regulators of aboveground biomass; however, functional diversity (FD) was more important than taxonomic diversity (species richness) in controlling aboveground biomass. FD had the strongest direct effect on aboveground biomass compared with species richness, soil nutrients, and community weighted mean (CWM) traits. Our results further indicate that leaf and root morphological traits and traits related to the nutrient content in plant tissues represent the existence of a leaf and root economic spectrum, and the acquisitive resource use strategy influenced aboveground biomass. Our results suggest that both taxonomic and FD play a role in shaping aboveground biomass, but FD is more important in supporting aboveground biomass in this type of environments. These results imply that enhancing FD is important to restoring and managing degraded forest landscapes.
Project description:Growing cacao (Theobroma cacao L.) in an agroforestry system generates a productive use of the land, preserves the best conditions for physical, chemical and biological properties of tropical soils, and plays an important role in improving cacao production and fertility of degraded tropical soils. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of two long term agroforestry systems of cacao management on soil physical and chemical properties in an area originally inhabited by 30 years old native secondary forest (SF). The two agroforestry systems adapted were: improved natural agroforestry system (INAS) where trees without economic value were selectively removed to provide 50% shade and improved traditional agroforestry system (ITAS) where all native trees were cut and burnt in the location. For evaluation of the changes of soil physical and chemical properties with time due to the imposed cacao management systems, plots of 10 cacao genotypes (ICS95, UF613, CCN51, ICT1112, ICT1026, ICT2162, ICT2171, ICT2142, H35, U30) and one plot with a spontaneous hybrid were selected. Soil samples were taken at 0-20, 20-40 and 40-60 cm depths before the installation of the management systems (2004), and then followed at two years intervals. Bulk density, porosity, field capacity and wilting point varied significantly during the years of assessment in the different soil depths and under the systems assessed. Soil pH, CEC, exchangeable Mg and sum of the bases were higher in the INAS than the ITAS. In both systems, SOM, Ext. P, K and Fe, exch. K, Mg and Al+H decreased with years of cultivation; these changes were more evident in the 0-20 cm soil depth. Overall improvement of SOM and soil nutrient status was much higher in the ITAS than INAS. The levels of physical and chemical properties of soil under cacao genotypes showed a marked difference in both systems.
Project description:In this study, we aim to gain a better insight on how habitat filtering due to urbanization shapes bird communities of Vienna city parks. This may help to derive implications for urban planning in order to promote and maintain high diversity and ecosystem function in an increasing urbanized environment. The structure of wintering bird communities of 36 Vienna city parks - surveyed once a month in January 2009, December 2009, December 2012, and January 2013 - was described by species richness and the functional diversity measurements FRic (functional richness), FEve (functional evenness), and FDiv (functional divergence). Environmental filtering was quantified by park size, canopy heterogeneity within the park, and the proportion of sealed area surrounding each park. Species richness, FRic, and FDiv increased with increasing park size. Sealed area had a strong negative effect on species richness and FDiv. Canopy heterogeneity played a minor role in explaining variance in FDiv data. FEve did not respond to any of these park parameters. Our results suggest a loss of species richness and functional diversity, hence most likely indicate a decline in ecosystem function, with decreasing park size and increasing sealed area of the surrounding urban landscape matrix.
Project description:Shade coffee plantations have received attention for their role in biodiversity conservation. Bats are among the most diverse mammalian taxa in these systems; however, previous studies of bats in coffee plantations have focused on the largely herbivorous leaf-nosed bats (Phyllostomidae). In contrast, we have virtually no information on how ensembles of aerial insectivorous bats--nearly half the Neotropical bat species--change in response to habitat modification. To evaluate the effects of agroecosystem management on insectivorous bats, we studied their diversity and activity in southern Chiapas, Mexico, a landscape dominated by coffee agroforestry. We used acoustic monitoring and live captures to characterize the insectivorous bat ensemble in forest fragments and coffee plantations differing in the structural and taxonomic complexity of shade trees. We captured bats of 12 non-phyllostomid species; acoustic monitoring revealed the presence of at least 12 more species of aerial insectivores. Richness of forest bats was the same across all land-use types; in contrast, species richness of open-space bats increased in low shade, intensively managed coffee plantations. Conversely, only forest bats demonstrated significant differences in ensemble structure (as measured by similarity indices) across land-use types. Both overall activity and feeding activity of forest bats declined significantly with increasing management intensity, while the overall activity, but not feeding activity, of open-space bats increased. We conclude that diverse shade coffee plantations in our study area serve as valuable foraging and commuting habitat for aerial insectivorous bats, and several species also commute through or forage in low shade coffee monocultures.