Javier Ibarra Isassi

Concordia University
Coffee plantation management practices influence the trait structure of ant communities

Ibarra-Isassi J., A. Arenas-Clavijo, I. Armbrecht, I. T. Handa & J.-P. Lessard

Land use management can influence changes in biodiversity beyond the targeted species. In the last decades, management practices in coffee plantations have come from traditional practices where coffee was grown below the shade of natural forests, to vast extensions of coffee plantations where the bushes are exposed to the sun. Previous studies have shown that the latter is a major driver of biodiversity loss and associated ecosystem services. On the other hand, when coffee is grown in the shade, the impact is buffered because accompanying (shade) trees can act as potential shelters and facilitate dispersal of organisms. Thus, it is important to evaluate to which degree these contrasting practices are influencing biodiversity. Furthermore, the contrasting environmental conditions caused by these practices are bound to play an important role in community assemblage. In this study, we compare the influence of the two coffee plantation management practices (sun-grown vs shade-grown) on trait assemblage, aiming to detect the filtering of specific traits. We sampled 16 coffee plantations (8 of each management type) in the mountains of southern Colombia. Similarly, we sampled 8 patches of natural vegetation that were close to the coffee plantations. Preliminary results show that sun-grown coffee favours bigger ant species, pointing at this trait (body size) as a response to harsher environments.