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Response of lepidopteran herbivore communities to crop management in coffee plantations

Sosa-Aranda, Inari, del-Val, Ek, Hernández-Martínez, Gerardo, Arroyo-Lambaer, Denise, Uscanga, Adriana, Boege, Karina
Agriculture, ecosystems & environment 2018 v.265 pp. 37-44
Lepidoptera, canopy, crop management, leaves, morphospecies, phytophagous insects, plantations, species diversity
Although the conservation potential of low input coffee plantations has been widely proved, the effect of management intensity on insect herbivores and particularly caterpillar communities has been scarcely studied. We used a management intensity quantitative index to assess changes in leaf damage, abundance of all herbivores and caterpillar species richness, abundance, evenness and community species composition along a management intensity gradient in coffee plantations.There was no correlation between management intensity and the abundance of all herbivore guilds, but there was a negative relationship between management intensity and caterpillar abundance and species richness. Management intensity was positively related to caterpillar species evenness but did not influence species composition, which was rather influenced by climatic seasonality. We found 202 lepidopteran morphospecies, of which 128 fed on coffee plants. Despite a greater caterpillar abundance and richness, mean leaf damage to coffee plants was lower in plantations with a low management intensity index. Overall, we suggest that low and intermediate management intensity and the preservation of a diverse shade canopy can contribute to the conservation of Lepidoptera, without representing significant amounts of leaf damage to coffee plants.