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Ecological and social drivers of coffee pollination in Santander, Colombia

Bravo-Monroy, L., Tzanopoulos, J. and Potts, S. G. ORCID: (2015) Ecological and social drivers of coffee pollination in Santander, Colombia. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 211. pp. 145-154. ISSN 0167-8809

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2015.06.007


Bees and other insects provide pollination services that are key to determining the fruit set on coffee plantations. These pollination services are influenced by local ecology as well as human factors, both social and economic. To better understand these different factors, we assessed their effect on pollinators and coffee pollination services in Santander, Colombia. We quantified the effect of key ecological drivers on pollinator community composition, such as the method of farm management (either conventional or organic) and the surrounding landscape composition, specifically the proximity to forest. We found that ambient levels of pollination services provided by the local pollinator fauna (open pollination) accounted for a 10.5 ± 2.0% increase in final coffee fruit set, and that the various pollinators are affected differently by the differing factors. For example, our findings indicate that conventional farm management, using synthetic inputs, can promote pollinators, especially if they are in close proximity to natural forest fragments. This is particularly true for stingless bees. Honeybee visitation to coffee is also positively influenced by the conventional management of farms. Factors associated with greater numbers of stingless bees on farms include greater shade cover, lower tree densities, smaller numbers and types of trees in bloom, and younger coffee plantations. A forested landscape close to farms appears to enhance these factors, giving increased stability and resilience to the pollinating bees and insects. However we found that organic farms also support diverse pollinator communities, even if distant from forest fragments. The contribution of honeybees to pollination value (US$129.6/ha of coffee) is greater than that of stingless bees (US$16.5/ha of coffee). Since the method of farm management has a major impact on the numbers and types of pollinators attracted to farms, we have analysed the statistically significant social factors that influence farmers’ decisions on whether to adopt organic or conventional practices. These include the availability of technology, the type of landowner (whether married couples or individual owners), the number of years of farmers’ formal education, the role of institutions, membership of community organizations, farm size, coffee productivity and the number of coffee plots per farm. It is hoped that the use of our holistic approach, which combines investigation of the social as well as the ecological drivers of pollination, will help provide evidence to underpin the development of best practices for integrating the management of pollination into sustainable agricultural practices.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Sustainable Land Management > Centre for Agri-environmental Research (CAER)
ID Code:54676
Uncontrolled Keywords:Agroforestry systems, Landscape context, Farm management Organic and conventional coffee farming, Ecosystem services,Drivers of crop adoption, Pollinators

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