Connecting sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation: Does shade coffee provide habitat for mammals?
Shade coffee systems are believed to support diverse wildlife. However, most research on wildlife in shade coffee has focused on bird and insect diversity, with few studies that have focused on mammals living within coffee-dominated landscapes.
Research Goals & methods
This study surveys small mammals in landscapes along the coffee-forest spectrum. Plots with traps were established in forest, shade coffee, and sun coffee habitats with 46 sampling nights per site over seven months. 976 small and medium mammals were captured (501 individuals) of 17 species. Abundance and species diversity of small mammals were similar between forests and shade-grown coffee, with greater animal abundance and diversity under increased canopy cover and understory.
Conclusions & takeaways
At the landscape scale, small mammal density and richness significantly decreased with increasing proportion of sun coffee within the landscape and increased as the amount of shade coffee increased. Furthermore, small mammals thrived in areas adjacent to forest patches and as the proportion of forested areas within the landscape increased. The study recommends maintaining high amounts of canopy cover and retaining lower strata vegetation (5 cm–1 m) within coffee farms. The study also recommends preserving or reestablishing forest patches within the coffee landscape to enhance small mammal diversity. Shade coffee shows promise as a conservation strategy to promote wildlife conservation and protect mammalian biodiversity.
Connecting sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation: Does shade coffee provide habitat for mammals?. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment. 2015;199:85–93. doi:10.1016/j.agee.2014.08.023..
- Department of Natural Resources Science, University of Rhode Island