Coffee Research in Sumatra

Posted by Stacy Philpott on September 13, 2007

Picturesque lake in Sumatra surrounded by jungle and mountains

Stacy Philpott, postdoctoral fellow with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, is comparing biodiversity in coffee farms in Sumatra and Mexico.

There has been significant research in New World coffee farms that demonstratesthat shade grown coffee farms are sanctuaries for tropical wildlife.

With much of the world's coffee now being grown in southeast Asia, scientists wonder if biodiversity can be conserved in shade grown coffee farms there.

Ants and Birds

Topless researcher sweating in steamy Sumatran coffee farm

Sumatran coffee farms are being surveyed for birds and ants, two diverse groups of animals that, in the New World, clearly show that coffee farms that are most similar to native forests have the most species of birds and ants.

The field work in Sumatra traverses sites in lowland coffee farms to more upland sites and from coffee grown in full sun to that grown in shade.

If biodiversity is higher in Sumatran shade grown coffee farms than in coffee farms without shade then the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center's "Bird Friendly®" coffee certification program could be implemented there, in hopes of encouraging farmers to protect wildlife as they cultivate coffee.

Sumatran coffee farms are being surveyed for birds and ants, two diverse groups of animals that, in the New World, clearly show that coffee farms that are most similar to native forests have the most species of birds and ants.

The field work in Sumatra traverses sites in lowland coffee farms to more upland sites and from coffee grown in full sun to that grown in shade.

If biodiversity is higher in Sumatran shade grown coffee farms than in coffee farms without shade then the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center's "Bird Friendly®" coffee certification program could be implemented there, in hopes of encouraging farmers to protect wildlife as they cultivate coffee.

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