Birds and Ants as Insect Predators in Coffee Farms

Posted by Gregory Gough on January 1, 2004

The effect that birds and ants have on insect communities was compared in shade grown coffee plantations in Chiapas, Mexico.

Researchers used some exclosures to keep birds off certain branches, and others to keep arboreal ants off branches.

Inside the bird exclosures, they counted 50 percent more insects than outside the exclosures. Large insects, in particular, found a haven inside the exclosures, specifically roaches, beetles, spiders, and orthopterans (crickets and katydids, for example).

Ant-free branches also had more insects than control branches, but not as many as bird-free branches. However, ants did do a better job than birds at consuming small insects.

This article summarizes the information in this scientific paper:

Philpott, Stacy, Greenberg, Russell S., Bichier, Peter and Perfecto, I. 2004. Impacts of major predators on tropical agroforest arthropods: comparisons within and across taxa. Oecologia, 140(1): 140-149.

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