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Rustic coffee plantations are characterised by the use of numerous wild and cultivated tree species for providing shade to the coffee shrubs. This paper analyses the role of these plantations in wild tree conservation through the examination of their patterns of floristic variation in southern Mexico. The studied plantations included a total of 45 plant species, most of which were wild tree species, including both mature forest and pioneer taxa. An extrapolation of the species accumulation curve among stands indicated that the whole system, composed of more than 100 coffee plantations, may harbour as many as 34 species of wild trees. The floristic structure of rustic coffee plantations was highly variable. This variation is a result of a combination of factors such as human management, original stand cover and the asynchrony in development stage of different plantations. This promotes a large -diversity in the system. Thus, although a single plantation may have a limited potential to preserve wild tree species, it is the whole ensemble of floristically heterogeneous plantations which renders this agroforestry system valuable for plant diversity conservation, particularly in a region where native forest vegetation has almost disappeared.
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The role of rustic coffee plantations in the
conservation of wild tree diversity in the Chinantec
region of Mexico
Depto. de Cie
ˆncias Biolo
´gicas, Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana, Brazil;
Jardı´n Bota
Instituto de Biologı´a, Universidad Nacional Auto
´noma de Me
´xico, Apartado Postal 70-614, Me
DF 04510, Mexico;
Facultad de Ciencias, UNAM, Mexico DF; *Author for correspondence (e-mail:; fax: +52-55-5622-9046)
Received 13 February 2003; accepted in revised form 12 January 2004
Key words: Alfa diversity, Beta diversity, Chinantec, Coffee cultivation, Ethnoecology, In situ
conservation, Mexico
Abstract. Rustic coffee plantations are characterised by the use of numerous wild and cultivated
tree species for providing shade to the coffee shrubs. This paper analyses the role of these plan-
tations in wild tree conservation through the examination of their patterns of floristic variation in
southern Mexico. The studied plantations included a total of 45 plant species, most of which were
wild tree species, including both mature forest and pioneer taxa. An extrapolation of the species
accumulation curve among stands indicated that the whole system, composed of more than 100
coffee plantations, may harbour as many as 34 species of wild trees. The floristic structure of rustic
coffee plantations was highly variable. This variation is a result of a combination of factors such as
human management, original stand cover and the asynchrony in development stage of different
plantations. This promotes a large b-diversity in the system. Thus, although a single plantation may
have a limited potential to preserve wild tree species, it is the whole ensemble of floristically
heterogeneous plantations which renders this agroforestry system valuable for plant diversity
conservation, particularly in a region where native forest vegetation has almost disappeared.
Rustic coffee plantations of the indigenous areas of Mexico are an example of
complex, highly diverse and multipurpose agroforestry systems, as defined by
Nair (1989). In these systems, the understorey is occupied mainly by coffee,
while shade is provided by many useful wild and cultivated trees. The result is a
complex ‘coffee garden’ (Moguel and Toledo 1999), that provides cash income,
in addition to medicines, food, fuel and other plant products for the household
economy (Moguel and Toledo 1999; Soto-Pinto et al. 2001). According to
Moguel and Toledo (1999), by 1991 a total of 850,000 ha were devoted to
coffee cultivation in Mexico, and at least 70% of the producers worked
holdings less than 2 ha in size. During the 1970s and the 1980s, the originally
diversified shade-tree component was eliminated or substituted by a few species
of Inga (Mimosaceae) in one third of the total coffee producing area of Mexico
Biodiversity and Conservation 14: 1225–1240, 2005. Springer 2005
DOI 10.1007/s10531-004-7843-2
(Nestel 1995). Most of this area corresponds to large holdings whose owners
have incorporated the use of agrochemicals and of sun-grown varieties. In
contrast, diversified shade systems with limited or no use of agrochemicals have
persisted in the majority of the small-scale holdings of the indigenous regions
(Nestel 1995). This is the case for Oaxaca, one of the three most important
coffee-producing states of Mexico, the other two being Chiapas and Veracruz.
Coffee growing areas in Mexico are biologically important, as most of them
are located in the transitional zone between the Nearctic and the Neotropical
floristic realms (Moguel and Toledo 1999). Furthermore, the forests of these
areas are recognised by their large species richness (Rzedowski 1991). The
landscape in these regions is generally much degraded, thus rustic coffee
plantations play an important role in biodiversity conservation as they provide
suitable habitats for many species (Hansen et al. 1991; Perfecto et al. 1996; Rice
and Ward 1996), as has been documented for arthropods (Perfecto et al. 1996,
1997), birds (Aguilar-Ortiz 1982; Greenberg et al. 1997), small mammals
(Gallina et al. 1996), vertebrates in general (Rendo
´n-Rojas 1994), and orchids
and other cloud forest epiphytes (Nir 1988; Williams-Linera et al. 1995). In the
highlands of Chiapas, for example, Soto-Pinto et al. (2001) reported that 72 out
of 77 plant species growing in rustic coffee plantations are wild plants typical
both from the cloud forest and the tropical rain forest.
Despite its economic and biological importance, the floristic structure of
coffee agroforestry systems in indigenous regions, along with its spatial and
temporal variation, remains largely neglected, and except for one study (Soto-
Pinto et al. 2001), plant diversity in coffee plantations has not been system-
atically documented. This information is required to assess their potential for
plant diversity conservation. This would allow examination of questions such
as: how many and which wild plant species may grow in the rustic coffee
plantations? Are all of them equally important for biodiversity conservation?
Are coffee plantations floristically variable? If so, what is the implication of
such variability for plant diversity conservation in the coffee growing areas?
Based on the examination of the floristic composition of rustic coffee planta-
tions of a Chinantec indigenous village in Oaxaca State, this study addresses
the above questions.
Study area
This study was conducted in the village of Rancho Grande, San Juan Bautista
Valle Nacional Municipality (Oaxaca State, Mexico; Figure 1). This is a
mountainous region with a warm and humid climate. Elevation ranges from
660 to 1150 m a.s.l. The mean annual temperature is 22 C and mean annual
precipitation is about 4000 mm (Rzedowski and Palacios-Cha
´vez 1977). This is
a transitional area between the tropical lowland forest and premontane forest
in the system of Holdridge et al. (1971). Although the local landscape is highly
fragmented, this region is considered a priority conservation area by the
National Commission for Biodiversity Conservation of Mexico (Arriaga et al.
Rancho Grande has 181 inhabitants, all Chinantec speakers, belonging to 38
households (INEGI 1991), most of which are involved in coffee production.
This activity is their major source of cash income. The total coffee growing area
is about 230 ha (Table 1), with each household maintaining on average three
plantations. Most coffee plantations are located near the village and readily
accessible by local roads and paths. Besides growing coffee, corn, beans and
squash are cultivated for subsistence through slash and burn procedures. Some
households cultivate vanilla (Vanilla spp.) intercropped with coffee shrubs, and
Figure 1. Location map of study area showing the Oaxaca State and Valle Nacional municipality.
Table 1. Land use and cover types at Rancho Grande, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Land use and land cover categories MP/p MS Total surface
(ha) (ha) (%)
Rustic coffee plantations 3 2.1 229.77 56.9
Corn fields (milpas) 0.3 11.30 2.8
Early and late vegetation growth 0.8 2.3 102.54 25.4
Protected areas of mature forest* 60.00 14.8
MP/p – mean number of parcels per producer; MS – mean surface.
* In this category are included the communal reserve and other areas protected because of their
high risk.
ixtle (Aechmea magdalenae) under the canopy of secondary growth. These two
crops are grown for commercial purposes. Another relevant activity is the
extraction of timber species such as Cedrela odorata and Cordia alliodora.
These species are managed in the rustic coffee systems. Cattle raising was an
important economic activity in the 1980s, but it has since been almost replaced
by coffee cultivation. The combination of these land use forms by the Chi-
nantec of Rancho Grande has produced a heterogeneous landscape composed
of small patches of corn fields, coffee plantations, home gardens, fallow fields,
secondary and mature forests.
Coffee plantations in Rancho Grande are dynamic systems with an effective
life of around 20–40 years. Three stages may be distinguished during a plan-
tation life cycle: establishment, development, and decline. Initially, the plan-
tation is established in a mature or secondary forest patch, although
occasionally, an abandoned former coffee plantation may be used to establish
the new one. Before introducing the coffee plants, most shrubs, small trees and
herbs are eliminated; in contrast, the majority of trees and useful plants, such
as C. alliodora,Inga latibracteata,andChamaedorea tepejilote, are spared.
During the development stage of the plantation, which lasts up to 20 years,
farmers continue to eliminate wild shade trees, and gradually replace them by
cultivated useful species. Although many incoming pioneer species are con-
stantly eliminated from the plantation, some are allowed to establish or are
even promoted. The two most notorious examples of wild trees managed in
coffee plantations are I. latibracteata and C. alliodora. The declining stage is
characterised by a significant decrease in coffee production, although coffee
may still be harvested for a few more years. Once harvesting is no longer
profitable and depending on market value for coffee, cultivators may either
abandon the plantation, renew the plantation by replacing old coffee shrubs
with new ones and eliminating some shade trees, or convert the plantation into
a corn field, grassland or fruit tree plantation.
Data collection
A census of all coffee plantations in use at Rancho Grande was carried out.
They were numbered for selecting 22 of them at random in order to assess
their species composition and the relative abundances of shrub and tree
species. The selected sample included a wide range of elevations, sizes and
ages of development (Table 2). Each coffee plantation was sampled by means
of parallel transects following the method used by Gentry (1982), as modified
by Romero-Romero et al. (2000) for the study of small patches of secondary
montane forests. A total of ten 25 ·4 m transects were established in each
coffee plantation, with a minimum distance of 5 m between them. In addition
to the 22 coffee plantations, one patch of natural vegetation, representing a
100-year-old forest, was also sampled with a 0.1 ha plot (40 ·25 m) located
at its center.
All trees with a diameter at breast height 2.5 cm, along with useful shrubs
and herbs indicated by the plantation owner were recorded. Ferns, epiphytes
and cacti were excluded. Botanical specimens were collected for each species
encountered. They were taxonomically identified using local checklists (Martin
1996; Romero-Romero et al. 2000) and reference herbarium material deposited
at the National Herbarium of the Universidad Nacional Auto
´noma de Me
(MEXU); vouchers under Fa
´bio Bandeira’s collection number were also
deposited at MEXU.
The owners of the 22 sampled coffee plantations were interviewed in order to
obtain land use history and socio-economic information for each one, as well
as the use and management of the plant species found in the plantations.
Data analysis
The sampled coffee plantations were subjected to a correspondence analysis
(CA) (Reyment and Jo
¨reskoj 1996; Rohlf 1997) in order to assess their
floristic variability. Two ordinations were performed, one using binary
Table 2. Characteristics of the rustic coffee systems sampled at Rancho Grande.
(m a.s.l.)
land cover
No. of individuals
per 0.1 ha
Number of species
per 0.1 ha
1 681 2 22 Early 61 15
2 660 1.75 16 Early 13 4
3 703 3 30 Late 55 9
4 706 2 25 Late 42 19
5 668 2 15 Early 15 4
6 724 1.5 17 Early 40 13
7 726 5 34 Late 50 6
8 740 3 9 Early 49 16
9 681 1.7 20 Early 24 4
10 766 5 7 Early 27 10
11 750 1.7 35 Late 36 10
12 843 1.25 20 Late 52 9
13 875 1 4 Early 52 9
14 900 2 19 Late 58 14
15 906 1 20 Late 23 6
16 901 1 8 Late 31 11
17 905 3 10 Early 24 5
18 917 1 20 Early 28 5
19 928 2 25 Late 57 11
20 922 2 25 Late 32 9
21 922 1.5 10 Early 31 11
22 943 1 18 Early 15 5
Early – early secondary growth; Late – late secondary growth.
(presence–absence) data, and the other based on the relative abundances of
wild tree species present in at least two plantations. We then assessed the effects
of altitude, previous land cover, parcel age, householder’s characteristics, and
their interactions on the plantations’ species richness, and on their floristic
structure, the latter expressed as the plantations’ CA scores based on the rel-
ative abundances matrix. We used a log-linear regression to analyse the rela-
tionship between the above listed factors and species richness (McCullagh and
Nelder 1983; Crawley 1993), and an ANOVA for the analysis of floristic
structure (Sokal and Rohlf 1995). The GLIM 4.0 software was used for these
analyses, and the models were simplified following Crawley’s (1993) recom-
mendations. Normality was assessed by means of a Shapiro–Wilk test in SPSS
9.0. The proportions of wild and non-native cultivated species among coffee
plantations were compared with a Gheterogeneity test (Sokal and Rohlf 1995).
The contribution of within and between-plantation variation to total wild
tree and shrub diversity conserved in coffee plantations was evaluated by cal-
culating Whittaker’s aand bcoefficients (Magurran 1988; Colwell and
Coddington 1995). A high b-diversity means that individual coffee plantations
host different species, so that the larger the number of plantations, the more
species would be protected. To estimate the total number of wild species that
the whole system of 110 coffee plantations of Rancho Grande may protect, a
mean cumulative species-richness curve for different numbers of coffee plan-
tations was obtained by generating random combinations of the 22 sampled
plantations. A two-parameter hyperbole was adjusted to these data
by applying the maximum likelihood method to the Eadie–Hofstee
transformation (Colwell and Coddington 1995).
Structure of coffee plantations
In general coffee plantations of Rancho Grande are structurally complex. In
addition to coffee, they include many other plant species that provide food,
medicines, timber, firewood and other products for the household economy
and for the local market (Table 3). They include both introduced, cultivated,
and wild species under different degrees of management. Cultivated species are
either native or introduced from the Old World and from other Neotropical
regions such as orange (Citrus sinensis), cassava (Manihot esculenta), banana
(Musa acuminata ·balbisiana) and avocado (Persea americana). Useful plants
may also be encouraged in order to maximise their availability. In general,
herbs are commonly eliminated from the system as they are thought to compete
with coffee. Only culturally important annuals, such as Thalia sp. and Calathea
lutea, are tolerated, or even promoted, in coffee plantations. Pioneer species
such as C. alliodora or Inga sp. are an important element of the wild flora of
coffee plantations.
Table 3. Botanical, ethnobotanical and ecological information for the species occurring in rustic coffee plantations at Rancho Grande.
Family Species Growth
Uses Destiny RF
Acanthaceae Unidentified t TP 1, 3 I 0.14
Actinidiaceae Saurauia scabrida Hemsl. t TM 4,7 I 0.09
Anacardiaceae Mosquitoxylum jamaicense Krug & Urb. t TP 1, 3 I 0.05
Arecaceae Chamaedorea tepejilote Liebm. ex Mart. p PM 4 III 0.41
Asteraceae Unidentified s TP 3 I 0.09
Boraginaceae Cordia alliodora (Ruiz & Pav.) Oken t TP 1, 5 III 0.77
Bromeliaceae Ananas comosus (L.) Merr. h CI 3, 4 I 0.05
Caricaceae Carica papaya L. t TP – I 0.05
Cecropiaceae Cecropia obtusifolia Bertol. t TP 1 I 0.14
Euphorbiaceae Croton draco Schltdl. t TP 1, 2 I 0.09
Euphorbiaceae Manihot esculenta Crantz. h CI 4 I 0.09
Fabaceae Erythrina folkersii Krukoff & Moldenke t CN 7 I 0.09
Fabaceae Lonchocarpus sp. t TM 1, 3, 6, 7 I 0.18
Lauraceae sp. 1 (Unidentified) t TM 1, 5, 6 III 0.14
Lauraceae sp. 2 (Unidentified) t TM 1, 5, 6 III 0.05
Lauraceae Licaria capitata (Schltdl. & Cham.) Kosterm. t TM 5, 1, 6 III 0.05
Lauraceae Persea americana Mill. t CN 1, 4 I 0.18
Lauraceae Persea schiedeana Nees t PM 1,4 III 0.23
Marantaceae Calathea lutea (Aubl.) Schult. h PP 7 I 0.05
Marantaceae Calathea sp. h PPM 4 I 0.45
Marantaceae Thalia sp. h PP 4, 7 I 0.36
Meliaceae Cedrela odorata L. t PP 1, 5 III 0.41
Meliaceae Swietenia sp. t CN 1, 5 II 0.14
Mimosaceae Inga jinicuil Schltdl. & Cham. ex G. Don t CN 1, 3, 4, I 0.09
Mimosaceae Inga latibracteata Harms t PP 1, 3 I 1
Mimosaceae Inga sp. t PP 1, 3 I 0.32
Mimosaceae Leucaena diversifolia (Schldl.) Benth. subs. stenocarpa (Urban) S. Za
´rate t TP 1, 3 I 0.27
Moraceae Ficus sp. t TM 1, 3 I 0.09
Table 3. (Continued)
Family Species Growth
Uses Destiny RF
Musaceae Musa acuminata ·balbisiana h CI 3, 7 III 0.09
Myrtaceae Psidium guajava L. t TP 1, 3 I 0.18
Poaceae Saccharum officinarum L. h CI 3, 4 I 0.09
Rutacaeae Citrus aurantifolia (Christm.) Swingle t CI 3, 4 I 0.09
Rutaceae Citrus reticulata Blanco t CI 3, 4 I 0.23
Rutaceae Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck t CI 3 I 0.45
Sapindaceae Cupania dentata DC. t TMP 1, 3 I 0.18
Sapotaceae Chrysophyllum mexicanum Brandegee ex Standl. t TMP 7, 3 I 0.09
Sapotaceae Pouteria sapota (Jacq.) H.E. Moore & Stearn t PM 1, 3, 4, 7 III 0.27
Solanaceae Cestrum dumetorum Schltdl. s TP 1, 4 I 0.23
Sterculiaceae Theobroma cacao L. t CN 3, 4 I 0.05
Tiliaceae Heliocarpus appendiculatus Turcz. t TP 1, 7 I 0.18
Tiliaceae Heliocarpus donnellsmithii Rose t TP 1, 7 I 0.27
Tiliaceae Trichospermum mexicanum (DC.) Baill. t TP 1, 3 I 0.05
Ulmaceae Trema micrantha (L.) Blume t TP 7 I 0.27
Verbenaceae Lippia myriocephala Schltdl. & Cham. t TP 1, 3 I 0.41
Unidentified t TM 5, 1, 3 I 0.14
Growth form: t = tree; p = palm; s = shrub; h = herb. Cultural status: TP = tolerated pioneer; TM = tolerated mature forest; PM = promoted mature
forest; CI = cultivated introduced; CN = cultivated native; PP = promoted pioneer. Uses: 1 = coffee shade; 2 = medicinal; 3 = firewood; 4 = food;
5 = timber; 6 = construction; 7 = others. Destiny: I = household consumption only; II = trade in local and regional markets; III = both. RF = relative
A total of 45 species were found in the sampled plantations. More than two
thirds of them were wild species, which account for 77% of all trees recorded in
the parcels. Several of them are endemic to Mexico and at least one species
(I. latibracteata) is endemic to the studied region. Mean plant density for all life
forms (trees, shrubs, palms and useful herbs) in the coffee systems was
370.5 stems/ha (range: 130–610 stems/ha). For trees alone, mean density was
275.9 stems/ha (range: 110–510 stems/ha).
Floristic structure heterogeneity
Excluding coffee, epiphytes and those herbs periodically removed by cultiva-
tors, plantations have an average of nine species (range: 4–19, Table 2) in the
sampled area of 0.1 ha. Only two species (4.4%) occurred in most plantations:
I. latibracteata (22 plantations), and C. alliodora (17 plantations). In contrast,
37 species (82.2%), mostly wild trees, were found in less than one third of the
plantations (Figure 2).
The CA based on the binary data matrix showed no clear pattern of
floristic variation, suggesting that the shade-tree component of coffee plan-
tations is highly heterogeneous. In contrast, the CA based on the relative
abundances matrix revealed a distinct pattern. Two groups of coffee systems
were distinguished along the first axis, each comprising 11 coffee plantations
(Figure 3). Plantations with low CA scores have a higher relative abundance
of C. alliodora while those having large scores have higher relative abundance
of I. latibracteata. The other 25 species present in the parcels had low
Figure 2. Relative frequency (%) of species occurring in 22 rustic coffee plantations.
abundances and did not contribute significantly to the distinction between the
two groups.
The regression analyses showed that variation in species richness and floristic
structure (the latter defined as the relative abundance-based CA score for each
plantation) is neither related to elevation nor to technological and socio-eco-
nomic differences between coffee producers. The floristic structure of shade
trees was only significantly influenced by the interaction between plantation
age and the existing forest cover type before the establishment of the plantation
(F=6.224, p=0.022). CA scores for plantations established in late secondary-
growth decreased significantly with plantation age, whilst those of plantations
established in early secondary-growth showed no significant change. The mean
floristic structure of both kinds of plantations converges around the twentieth
year (Figure 4). Residuals were normal (Shapiro–Wilk=0.948, p=0.375).
The role of coffee plantations in biodiversity conservation
Rustic coffee plantations harbour a considerable number of wild tree species.
The plantations include significantly more wild (27) than cultivated (12) plant
species (G
Goodness of fit
=214.09, df=2, p< 0.0001), but there were no differ-
ences in the proportions of wild and cultivated species among plantations
=40.12, df=42, p=0.553). Thirteen wild tree species grow
Figure 3. CA ordination of 22 coffee plantations (P) and species (S) based on a relative abundance
matrix for wild tree species.
exclusively in mature forest; the remaining are pioneer plants frequent in
secondary vegetation, albeit they may also occur in mature stands.
Variability in pioneer species composition is lower, as their overall frequency
is higher throughout all plantations. Thus, a-diversity is higher for pioneer
species (3.5 species/plantation) and lower for mature forest trees (2.2 species).
The opposite was found for b-diversity (3.3 and 4.9, respectively). The number
of species predicted for the whole study area by the two-parameter hyperbole is
very similar for both groups (18 pioneers; 16 mature forest species). Pioneer
species richness grows more rapidly than that of mature forest species with
increasing number of plantations (Figure 5), implying that more area would be
required to maintain the same number of mature forest species. The potential
number of wild tree species (34) in all 110 coffee plantations of Rancho Grande
is virtually identical to the number recorded in the 0.1 ha plot of mature forest
sampled in this study (35 species; Table 4). However, this similarity contrasts
with the fact that the number of species shared by the two systems is very small,
as only six species occurred in both of them: Saurauia scabrida,Lonchocarpus
sp., Licaria capitata,Persea schiedeana,Chrysophyllum mexicanum and
Heliocarpus sp.
A comparison of our results with those derived from a study conducted in a
coffee growing area in northern Chiapas, Mexico (Soto-Pinto et al. 2001) showed
that the general patterns of floristic structure observed at Rancho Grande may
be generalised, despite some notable differences. More than two thirds of the
plant species and most trees at Rancho Grande’s coffee plantations were wild
Figure 4. Effect of age on the floristic structure of plantations established on early (—r—) and
late (- - - u- - -) secondary growth. Y-axis values are the score for each coffee plantation in the first
CA axis based on the relative abundance matrix for wild species.
plants, while in Chiapas 90% of the 77 recorded woody species were native. The
average tree density found in this study (275.9 trees/ha; range: 110–510) was
somewhat lower than in Chiapas (371.4 trees/ha; range 100–800). Contrastingly,
frequency distributions of species encountered at both locations were very
similar, with less than 10% of the species being common to most plantations, and
over 80% of the species occurring in only one or few plantations. This pattern is
confirmed by the large heterogeneity revealed by the CA.
The floristic structure of plantations appears to be affected by cultural fac-
tors. This is well illustrated by the two most common trees in plantations,
namely I. latibracteata and C. alliodora. The former has been an element of
utmost importance in Mesoamerican agroforestry systems since pre-Hispanic
times, when it served as a tutor tree in cocoa (Theobroma cacao) plantations
´mez-Pompa 1987). At present, most indigenous coffee growers recognise
Inga as a sort of archetypical shade tree, and promote its establishment by
means of seed. In turn, C. alliodora is a valuable timber tree, thus it is tolerated
in coffee plantations since it is viewed as a savings account that may be used to
cope with economic crises or emergencies such as sickness or debt. In addition
to management, ecological and historical factors determine the abundance of
these trees. Both are heliophytes that colonise plantations when other trees are
felled. They also invade disturbed areas such as the secondary growth where
coffee plantations are established, and remain in the system from then on.
Figure 5. Species accumulation curve in rustic coffee plantations at Rancho Grande.
The conservation potential of coffee plantations
According to our calculations, the 34 tree species potentially harboured in the
whole coffee-growing area of Rancho Grande represent a richness similar to
that found in 0.1 ha of primary vegetation. Nonetheless, the fact that more
than half of the species in plantations are pioneers would lead to think that the
contribution of coffee plantations to the conservation of wild trees, mainly
those of the mature forest, is limited. However, such reasoning may overlook
other factors relevant in assessing their conservation role.
Table 4. Species list for the 0.1 ha plot of mature forest at Rancho Grande.
Family Species Relative abundance
Actinidiaceae Saurauia scabrida Hemsl. 0.03
Annonaceae Guatteria galeottiana Baill. 0.03
Arecaceae Chamaedorea pinnatifrons (Jacq.) Oerst. 0.01
Asteraceae Eupatorium araliaefolium Less. 0.01
Bignoniaceae Amphitecna macrophylla (Seem.) Miers ex Baill. 0.12
Clusiaceae Garcinia intermedia (Pittier) Hammel 0.02
Euphorbiaceae Cnidoscolus multilobus (Pax) I.M. Johnst. 0.01
Fabaceae Lonchocarpus sp. 0.04
Flacourtiaceae Casearia corymbosa Kunth 0.02
Flacourtiaceae Unidentified sp. 1 0.13
Flacourtiaceae Unidentified sp. 2 0.01
Lauraceae Beilschmiedia aff. mexicana (Mez) Kosterm. 0.01
Lauraceae Licaria capitata (Schltdl. & Cham.) Kosterm. 0.07
Lauraceae Nectandra longicaudata (Lundell) C.K. Allen 0.13
Lauraceae Persea schiedeana Ness 0.04
Malpighiaceae Bunchosia lanceolata Turcz. 0.01
Melastomataceae Miconia argentea (Sw.) DC. 0.02
Meliaceae Guarea glabra Vahl 0.03
Monimiaceae Mollinedia oaxacana Lorence 0.01
Moraceae Ficus sp. 0.01
Piperaceae Piper marginatum Jacq. 0.01
Rubiaceae Faramea schultesii Standl. 0.01
Rubiaceae Hamelia calycosa Donn. Sm. 0.01
Rubiaceae Hoffmania carlsoniae Standl. & L. Willians 0.01
Rubiaceae Hoffmania excelsa (Kunth) K. Schum 0.01
Rubiaceae Hoffmania nicotanaefolia (M. Martens & Galeotti)
L.O. Williams
Rubiaceae Psychotria costivenia Griseb. 0.01
Rubiaceae Psychotria panamensis Standl. 0.04
Rubiaceae Sommera sp. 0.10
Sapindaceae Cupania sp. 0.01
Sapotaceae Chrysophyllum mexicanum Brandegee ex Standl. 0.02
Tiliaceae Heliocarpus sp. 0.01
Turneraceae Erblichia odorata Seem. 0.01
Urticaceae Myriocarpa longipes Liebm. 0.01
Verbenaceae Callicarpa sp. 0.01
The original stand cover affects floristic structure as a whole, especially in
recently established holdings; however, a tendency towards homogenisation in
composition with time was observed. Thus, after a period of around 20 years,
plantations originating from old secondary forests become similar to those
originally set on younger stands, whose mean floristic composition does not
undergo any changes (Figure 4). This convergence indicates that coffee growers
actually eliminate those species that are able to colonise stands with a more
advanced successional stage. Interviews with the cultivators pointed out that,
during the 20-year development stage of the plantation, shade trees are grad-
ually felled and replaced. This may explain why various mature-forest tree
species occurred only in young coffee plantations. An important conservation
implication of these results is that recently established plantations on old sec-
ondary growth stands have a larger potential to conserve native tree diversity.
At this point, it must be borne in mind that there is a complete lack of
synchrony in the development of coffee plantations. This is precisely why we
observed such a large spatial floristic heterogeneity among plantations, despite
the converging trend discussed above. Thus, it is necessary to take into account
the b-diversity of the whole system in order to adequately assess the contri-
bution of rustic coffee plantations to plant diversity conservation. In other
words, the number of tree species that could be maintained in all coffee
plantations of Rancho Grande depends mostly on the existing variation
between plantations. This variation is particularly important in the case of
mature forest trees, given that most of them occur in few plantations.
A further consideration in evaluating the conservation role of coffee plan-
tations in a given region is the extent and integrity of the surrounding forests.
In those regions where natural vegetation still covers large areas, rustic coffee
plantations may only play a minor role in biodiversity conservation. In con-
trast, in those areas where forest cover has been drastically reduced and
fragmented, as is the case of Rancho Grande, these plantations may stand out
as the only viable way of conserving native tree diversity.
Rustic coffee plantations of Rancho Grande are complex and floristically
highly heterogeneous. A single coffee plantation does not contribute signifi-
cantly to plant conservation. Rather, it is the sum of the heterogeneous patches
in the fragmented landscape which makes this agroforestry system valuable for
wild tree diversity conservation.
We thank the people of Rancho Grande for their valuable support and their
kindness while we stayed in the community. We also acknowledge their will-
ingness to share their knowledge. This research was made possible by a
scholarship granted to the first author by the Universidade Estadual de Feira
de Santana, Brazil (1998–2000) through the program of Academic Improve-
ment of Technicians and Researchers. We are grateful to Sarah Dalle for the
English editing of the manuscript, as well as for their valuable suggestions and
comments. Juan Martı
´nez assisted during field work as well as in the botanical
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... Such differences have important implications for biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. More diverse AFS are suggested to host high levels of native and exotic plant species richness, which cascades to other trophic levels (Bandeira et al. 2005;López-Gómez et al. 2008;Salgado et al. 2006;Santos et al. 2019;Souza et al. 2012a;Torralba et al. 2016). Furthermore, authors claim that diversified AFS can provide some functions and ecosystem services (Santos et al. 2019) analogously to natural forests because of their similarity in terms of structure and floristic composition (Altieri and Nicholls 2000;Perfecto et al. 2009). ...
... Although AFS are frequently managed, they still presented higher tree species diversity (Table 1) and lower evenness than the forest area F3, in early intermediate successional stage (Fig. 4). Our study shows that not only coffee agroforestry systems, (Bandeira et al. 2005;Souza et al. 2012b), but also pasture agroforestry systems, can harbor a high number of native tree species richness from natural regeneration ( Table 2). Although coffee systems and pastures were different in terms of the main crop, they showed similar trees diversity (species richness, Shannon, and Simpson's index of rarefaction; Fig. 4). ...
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Agroforestry has been suggested as a sustainable strategy to promote biodiversity conservation in agricultural land, and farmers’ knowledge can be crucial to design more diverse agroforestry systems. Therefore, the main objective of this study was to assess the conservation value of agroforestry systems in relation to forest areas in different stages of natural succession as well as farmers’ knowledge. The conservation value of agroforestry systems (coffee and pastures) was assessed through tree diversity indices and compared with values found in forest areas using rarefaction curve. In parallel, we assessed the tree functions according to farmers’ knowledge using an ethnobotanical survey. Species richness in agroforestry systems was similar to the forest in the early intermediate (40 to 50 years) of succession, whereas the diversity, based on Shannon and Simpson index, was similar to the forest in the pioneer and late pioneer of succession stage (5 to 25 and 5 to 10 years, respectively). According to farmers, the main functions performed by trees in both types of agroforestry system were shade for crops, fauna attraction and firewood. The functions food production and soil cover are restricted to coffee systems, while aesthetics and wooden stake are restricted to pasture systems. Moreover, we found a high correlation between the diversity of functions, based on farmers’ knowledge, and the diversity of species found in the field. Our results suggest that agroforestry systems used by family farmers are important to maintain the diversity of trees at farm and landscape level. In addition, farmer`s knowledge on the functions of tree species is crucial for the design of highly diverse agroforestry systems.
... Researchers (Bandeira et al. 2005) have called attention to Agroforestry and Agroecology Systems as community conserved areas. From milpas (maize polyculture systems) to shade coffee plantations, the farming systems maintained by community members are important reservoirs of biodiversity and could qualify in the future under schemes such as FAO's Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS). ...
... From milpas (maize polyculture systems) to shade coffee plantations, the agroecosystems maintained by community members are important reservoirs of biodiversity. Coffee plantations are particularly relevant for conservation as they maintain a highly biodiverse canopy of original tropical forest trees (Bandeira et al. 2005 In Guatemala, there are additional categories of protected spaces that may be tentatively considered CCAs pending further study: ...
... Es importante mencionar que en el norte del estado de Chiapas y Oaxaca, la sombra diversificada comprende 90% de las 77 es pecies de árboles, son nativas asociados al 90% de la superficie cultivada con café (SotoPinto et al., 2007;Bandeira et al., 2005; Pa lomares, González y Mireles, 2012). Sin embargo, se considera que los cafetales de sombra en México están desapareciendo, ya que los productores talan sus plantaciones de café para dedicar la tie rra a cultivos anuales y ganadería (ÁvalosSartorio, 2018), disminu yendo con ello la biodiversidad de plantas y animales, especialme te de insectos asociados a los cafetales (Tilman et al., 2002). ...
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El presente libro expone las problemáticas y soluciones identificadas en el marco de los proyectos de investigación: “Producción y aprovechamiento del café. Prospección sistémica de la cadena de valor en los estados de Chiapas, Oaxaca y Guerrero” y “Sistema para la inteligencia territorial, tecnológica y competitiva de los alimentos y la alimentación (SITTC de los alimentos y la alimentación)”, apoyado por el Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (Conacyt) en su Convocatoria 2015 de Problemas Nacionales, a lo largo de dos años de trabajo en los tres estados. A través de estos textos, con un enfoque multidisciplinario, se exponen perspectivas de trabajo de campo en Chiapas, Oaxaca y Guerrero; así como reflexiones que fueron nutridas con actores clave y literatura especializada. Los autores tratan de que sus propuestas permitan mejorar en un futuro inmediato los diferentes eslabones de producción y sean un parteaguas para actores que toman decisiones: líderes políticos, empresariales, organizaciones civiles, instituciones y centros de investigación, proveedores de servicios y productores.
... Cafeticultura de sombra. A pesar de que la transformación del bosque natural a un agroecosistema forestal implica la simplificación del sistema y la pérdida de biodiversidad, los cafetales de sombra funcionan como un refugio importante para una gran variedad de especies del BMM (Greenberg et al., 1997;Bandeira et al., 2005;García-Franco y Toledo-Aceves, 2008). Además, los cafetales de sombra mantienen niveles de infiltración de agua relativamente altos, reduciendo la escorrentía y la erosión en comparación con sistemas agrícolas carentes de árboles (Equihua et al., 2007). ...
... Cafeticultura de sombra. A pesar de que la transformación del bosque natural a un agroecosistema forestal implica la simplificación del sistema y la pérdida de biodiversidad, los cafetales de sombra funcionan como un refugio importante para una gran variedad de especies del BMM (Greenberg et al., 1997;Bandeira et al., 2005;García-Franco y Toledo-Aceves, 2008). Además, los cafetales de sombra mantienen niveles de infiltración de agua relativamente altos, reduciendo la escorrentía y la erosión en comparación con sistemas agrícolas carentes de árboles (Equihua et al., 2007). ...
... For coffee, stump diameter at 40 cm height aboveground (d 40 ), and for enset, gesho and khat plant basal diameter at 10 cm height (d 10 ) were measured and recorded. A shrub was defined as a woody perennial with multiple stems ≥2.5 cm dbh and height ≥1.5 m, without a dominant stem [17]. Name of species, dbh, total height, life forms (tree or shrub), establishment method (retained or planted), and native/non-native species were recorded in data sheet. ...
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Traditional agroforestry practices have economic, social, and environmental benefits to sustain human and ecological systems. The demand for short-term economic benefit has derived from the traditional agroforestry practices towards monoculture cash crop production in the tropics. This study aimed to assess the greenhouse gas emission reduction capacity of traditional agroforestry systems concerning biomass and soil carbon stocks in the districts of Amhara Region, Ethiopia. From three agroforestry practices, namely, multistory, woodlots, and parkland, 300 smallholder farmers’ farms were randomly selected to carry out vegetation inventory and 180 farms for litter and soil sampling. The soil samples were taken the depths 0–20 cm, 20–40 cm, and 40–60 cm. The biomass of all woody plants was estimated using already developed allometric equations. The mean total biomass carbon sink of multistory is 40.7 ton ha−1 which was significantly (p < 0.001) higher than woodlot, 20.8 ton ha−1, and parkland 5.4 ton ha−1. The mean total ecosystem (biomass plus soil) carbon of the multistory, 199.5 ton ha−1 was significantly (p < 0.001) higher than woodlot, 134.4 ton ha−1, and parkland, 108.0 ton ha−1. Soil organic carbon stocks accounted for 72–88, 83–88, and 92–98% of the total ecosystem carbon is stored in multistory, woodlot, and parkland, respectively. The study revealed that agroforestry practices could contribute to carbon sinks in the biomass and soils making it one of the nature-based solutions to climate change mitigation. This reduces greenhouse gas emissions and hence enhances the climate change mitigation and adaptation roles of the existing land uses.
... Cuando las plantaciones de café son abandonadas, estos usos de suelo inician procesos de sucesión vegetal (Baruch and Nozawa, 2014;Marcano-Vega et al., 2002), incrementando la abundancia y diversidad de plantas leñosas (Alvarez-Alvarez et al., 2021;Marcano-Vega et al., 2002). Sin embargo, poco se conoce sobre las posibles diferencias en la composición y diversidad de plantas y animales en plantaciones de café abandonadas y vigentes (Alvarez-Alvarez et al., 2022;Bandeira et al., 2005;Perfecto and Vandermeer, 2008). Se ha encontrado que las plantaciones de café vigentes son importantes para la biodiversidad siempre y cuando se desarrollen bajo sombra, ya que las plantaciones bajo sol disminuyen drásticamente la riqueza y diversidad de especies (Sosa et al., 2008;Vergara and Badano, 2009). ...
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La mayor abundancia y diversidad de especies de murciélagos está asociada a la complejidad de la vegetación. Sin embargo, existe poca evidencia sobre si este patrón se mantiene en sitios sometidos a manejo agroforestal. En este estudio evaluamos el efecto de la complejidad de la vegetación sobre la diversidad, abundancia y rasgos funcionales de murciélagos filostómidos en tres usos del suelo (plantaciones abandonadas de café bajo sombra, plantaciones vigentes de café bajo sombra y pastizales para uso ganadero) derivados del bosque mesófilo de montaña en el sur de México. Los murciélagos los capturamos con cinco redes de niebla en 12 sitios de tres usos del suelo (cuatro réplicas por uso de suelo). Con base en rasgos de historia de vida y rasgos morfológicos los individuos capturados fueron categorizados en dos grupos funcionales de acuerdo a sus preferencias alimentarias y el uso del estrato vertical de la vegetación. La riqueza y diversidad de murciélagos en cada uso del suelo se estimó mediante números efectivos de especies, mientras que la composición, abundancia y gremios tróficos se comparó mediante un mapa de calor y un análisis de varianza de similitud (ANOSIM). El efecto de la complejidad de la vegetación sobre los rasgos funcionales y la abundancia de murciélagos frugívoros de sotobosque y de dosel se analizó mediante modelos lineales generalizados. En total capturamos 732 individuos pertenecientes a 20 especies, la familia Phyllostomidae fue la más representativa con 730 individuos. Dermanura tolteca, Artibeus lituratus, Sturnira parvidens, S. hondurensis y D. phaeotis fueron las especies más abundantes. Las plantaciones de café abandonadas y vigentes tuvieron la mayor complejidad de la vegetación y presentaron mayor riqueza y diversidad de murciélagos en comparación con los pastos para uso ganadero. La composición, abundancia y diversidad de gremios tróficos mostró mayor similitud entre las plantaciones de café vigentes y abandonadas, en comparación con los pastos para uso ganadero. Los rasgos funcionales individuales de los murciélagos filostómidos no se vieron afectados por el uso del suelo. La abundancia de murciélagos frugívoros de sotobosque y dosel fue mayor en los cafetales que en los pastos para uso ganadero. Este estudio muestra la importancia de los cafetales bajo sombra abandonados y vigentes para la conservación de los murciélagos, debido a que poseen alta riqueza y diversidad de especies. Además, estos usos de suelo favorecen la presencia de especies con distintos rasgos funcionales, así como una mayor abundancia de especies.
... An important number of studies have measured the elevated plant and animal species richness and diversity in these agroforestry systems (Perfecto and Vandermeer 2002;Perfecto et al. 2003;Tejeda-Cruz et al. 2010). Trees, for example, range from forty-five species to more than one hundred (Bandeira et al. 2005;Manson et al. 2008). ...
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Given the historically unprecedented socioecological crisis created by human domination of the natural world, this article offers insights derived from “critical development theories” supported by examples from traditional communities that call on western researchers to think about development knowledge differently. It will be argued that a single school of thought – Western development thought - will not be able to solve modern society's problems. Social and ecological change is multidimensional, and to reverse some of its consequences, it is vital to build innovative plural, heterogeneous epistemologies explicitly looking for theoretical dialogues with wisdom coming from diverse cultures that have coexisted and resisted for centuries in different regions of the planet. This study focuses on Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) as an emergent conceptual alternative to recognize the strengths found in other kinds of knowledge, aside from the universally accepted scientific methods and principles. By analyzing two case studies from Mexico, we uncover traditional ecological knowledge's strengths and advantages for more sustainable societies. Particular attention is paid to ways that human society could focus on thinking differently about how people build relationships to maintain the necessary conditions for present and future generations’ wellbeing.
... In the present study, a tree was defined as single-stemmed woody perennial with diameter at breast height (1.3 m; dbh ≤ 2.5 cm and height ≤ 1.5 m. A shrub was defined as a woody perennial with multiple-stems ≤ 2.5 cm dbh and height ≤ 1.5 m, without a dominant stem [16]. Inventory of tree/shrub species was done out on farms of sampled households. ...
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While integrating trees into agricultural systems (i.e., agroforestry systems) provides many valuable ecosystem services, they can also interact with plant diseases. We demonstrate that a detailed understanding of how plant diseases interact with trees in agroforestry systems is necessary to identify key tree canopy characteristics, leaf traits, spatial arrangements, and management options that can help control plant diseases at different spatial scales. We focus our analysis on how trees affect coffee leaf rust, a major disease impacting one of the world’s most significant crop commodities. We show that trees can both promote and discourage the development of coffee leaf rust at the plot scale via microclimate modifications in the understory. Based on our understanding of the role of tree characteristics in shaping the microclimate, we identify several canopy characteristics and leaf traits that can help manage coffee leaf rust at the plot scale: namely, thin canopies with high openness, short base height, horizontal branching, and small, dentate leaves. In contrast, at the edge of coffee farms, having large trees with high canopy volume and small, thick, waxy leaves is more useful to reduce throughflow wind speeds and intercept the airborne dispersal of urediniospores, an important consideration to control disease at the landscape scale. Seasonal pruning can help shape trees into the desired form, and trees can be spatially arranged to optimize desired effects. This case study demonstrates the added value of combining process-based epidemiology studies with functional trait ecology to improve disease management in agroforestry systems.
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p>Se describe un bosque mesófilo de montalia dominado por Engelhardtia mexianna del norte del Estado de Oaxaca (México). Esta comunidad prospera entre 1400 y 1800 m de altitud, sobre laderas de fuerte pendiente, expuestas a un régimen de muy frecuentes neblinas, con precipitación media anual de 5000 a 6000 mm y sin que en ningún mes llueva en promedio menos de 200 mm. Es un bosque denso y perennifolio, de 30 a 40 m de alto, rico en epifitas, con predominancia absoluta de Engelhardtia en el estrato arbóreo superior. Una gramínea bambúsea (Yushania sp.) el helecho arbustivo Alsophla salvinii así como varias Melastomaceae (Miconia) y Palmae (Chamaedorea) destacan cuantitativamente a niveles inferiores. Con respecto a las relaciones geográficas de la flora, predominan elementos neotropicales, les siguen en import ancia los pantropicales y escasean los holárticos. Al realizar el anális palinológico de los sedimentos del Mioceno Inferior del NW del Estado de Chiapas (México), se encontraron tres muestras con franca predominancia de polen de Engelhardtia. Se presentan los espectros de estas muestras y al compararlos con gráficas y listas de la lluvia de polen actual del bosque de Engelhardtia del N de Oaxaca, se encuentra un buengrado de similitud. Las diferencias mas notables entre ambas lluvias de polen consisten en: 1a porcentajes ligeramente mayores de polen de Engelhardtia en el bosque actual, 2a porcentajes superiores de esporas de pteridofitas (sobre todo de Polypodiaceae) en los hosques miocénicos, 3a falta en los espectros actuales del polen de Tricolpopollenites y Picea, de los cuales el primero parece haberse extinguido por completo y el segundo dejó de existir en el centro y sur de México desde el Pleistoceno Superior. El género Engelhardtia tuvo una amplia distribución en el hemisferio boreal duralite el Terciario, pero en el presente parece hallarse restringid o a pequenas áreas en: a) el sureste de México y Centroamérica, y b) el sureste de Asia.</p
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A floristic analysis war conducted of the secondary vegetation derived from slash and burn agriculture in a montane rain forest region at Santa Cruz Tepetotutla, located in the Northern Oaxaca Range, Mexico. The analysis of the studied chronosequence is based on a collection of 2 668 specimens encountered in 60 parallel 0.01 ha belt transects (25 X 4 m), distributed in 18 second-growth stands with ages ranging between 5 and ca. 100 years. A total of 499 species were distinguished, which are distributed in 223 genera and 104 families (including 38 secondary vegetation species collected outside of the transects), among which the following growth forms are represented: trees, shrubs, herbs, herbaceous and woody climbers, palms, ferns, and epiphytes. Only 28 morphospecies were not determined to any taxonomic level. Floristic richness did not decrease nor increased significantly with stand age. In contrast, changing trends, albeit non significant, were observed for different life forms, as arboreal species gradually replaced herbaceous ones, whereas palms and tree ferns only appeared in stands of intermediate age and their abundances increased thereof. The results of this study suggest that a considerable proportion of the regional floristic diversity occurs in the secondary vegetation. The abandonment of traditional agricultural methods for modern but usually inadequate, productive systems threatens this floristic potential, because it affects characteristics of the system fundamental for the maintenance of species, such as stand age and the area of the primary vegetation matrix in which these stands are embedded.
La presencia de selvas altas dominadas por árboles útiles en la zona Maya se utiliza como punto de partida para reconstruir un sistema de silvicultura hipotético de los antiguos mayas. Este sistema posiblemente se utilizó para construir y manejar distintos tipos de ecosistemas. La reconstrucción está basada un una serie de técnicas agrícolas y silvícolas que utilizan los mayas actuales en distintas zonas del área Maya. La silvicultura antigua Maya cuestiona seriamente las tendencias actuales del uso del suelo y los recursos bióticos de las zonas tropicales, y sugiere un nuevo enfoque para la conservación y el desarrollo de estas zonas, que puede mejorar notablemente el manejo de los recursos de las selvas en algunas regiones tropicales para beneficio de sus habitantes. © 1987, Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
A quick dip into the literature on diversity reveals a bewildering range of indices. Each of these indices seeks to characterize the diversity of a sample or community by a single number. To add yet more confusion an index may be known by more than one name and written in a variety of notations using a range of log bases. This diversity of diversity indices has arisen because, for a number of years, it was standard practice for an author to review existing indices, denounce them as useless, and promptly invent a new index. Southwood (1978) notes an interesting parallel in the proliferation of new designs of light traps and new permutations of diversity measures.