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Pollinator diversity increases fruit production in Mexican coffee plantations: The importance of rustic management systems

Vergara, Carlos H., Badano, Ernesto I.
Agriculture, ecosystems & environment 2009 v.129 no.1-3 pp. 117-123
Coffea arabica, coffee products, specialty crops, plantations, pollinators, species diversity, crop yield, crop management, agroecosystems, pollination, land management, forests, environmental impact, Mexico
Pollination is an ecological process that provides important services to humans. Pollination service in agroecosystems depends on several factors, including the land management systems used by farmers. Here we focused on the effects of insect pollinator diversity on coffee fruit production along a gradient of management systems in central Veracruz, Mexico. The gradient ranged from low environmental impact management systems (the native forest is not completely removed) to high environmental impact management systems (the native forest is completely removed). We hypothesized that pollinator diversity should be higher in low-impact systems. Then, if fruit production is positively related to pollinator diversity, plantations with low-impact management systems should display higher fruit production than plantations with high-impact management systems. We used observational and experimental data to test this hypothesis. Our results indicated that low-impact management systems have higher species richness and relative diversity (measured with the Shannon-Wiener diversity index) of pollinators than high-impact management systems. In all cases, fruit production was positively related with species richness and diversity of pollinators. Moreover, fruit production was higher in low-impact than in high-impact management systems. These results suggest that the diversity of insect pollinators can be influenced by the management system applied by farmers, and that such effects may have strong consequences on coffee fruit production.