Research: Tree species diversity in Veracruz coffee farms

by JulieCraves on January 3, 2008

Tree species diversity and vegetation structure in shade coffee farms in Veracruz, Mexico. A. M. López-Gómeza, G. Williams-Linera, and R. H. Manson. 2008. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 124:160-172. 10.1016/j.agee.2007.09.008

Fifteen shade coffee farms, under different types of shade management, and two forest reserves in the Coatepec-Huatusco region of Veracruz were compared. Some of the results were as expected, e.g., there were fewer tree species in shade monocultures and the most tree species in diverse polycultures; some of these diverse polyculture farms actually had more species than the two forest reserves sampled.

One of the most interesting revealations in this paper was that the proportion of native tree species was similar across all farms, regardless of management type, at around 79%. Many of these species (71%) were rare, found on only one or two farms. This highlights the importance of coffee farms for preserving native species diversity in this important coffee-growing area, which is becoming highly fragmented and losing forest rapidly. One of the authors found in a previous study that 27 native tree species were no longer found in regional forests, but still existed on shaded coffee farms.

The authors noted that high tree species richness and functional diversity is linked to the fates of many other plant and animal taxa, and that further multi-taxa studies are needed to better evaluate the role of coffee farms in biodiversity preservation. They also suggested that it is imperative for shade coffee agrosystems be explicitly included in regional conservation strategies.

Revised on December 11, 2018

Posted in Research on coffee growing

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