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Coffee pollination in fragmented tropical landscapes: conservation of an important ecosystem service.
Ricketts, Taylor*,1, 1 Stanford University, Stanford, CA
ABSTRACT- Ecosystem services support human life and thus provide a powerful scientific and economic basis for informing conservation policies. Crop pollination by wild pollinators is a particularly clear example of an ecosystem service that has enormous value but is threatened by continued intensification of human land use. In this study, I am investigating the importance of native forest remnants as sources of wild pollinators to surrounding coffee crops in Central America. Working in coffee plots along replicated distance gradients (0 - 1.7 km) from forest patches, I conducted observations of coffee flower visitors (i.e., bees) and manipulative experiments to measure pollen limitation of coffee yields. Diversity, abundance, and visitation rate of bees, as well as pollen deposition rates on coffee stigmas, all decline significantly with distance from forest. Results from the first year of pollination experiments suggest a similar decline in yields, but these results are less clear. Studies such as this could indicate the economic value of forest remnants to surrounding human communities and, in so doing, suggest ways of aligning economic incentives with biodiversity conservation in agricultural landscapes.
KEY WORDS: ecosystem services, pollination, landscape ecology, fragmentation