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Bird predation on insects reduces damage to the foliage of cocoa trees (Theobroma cacao) in western Panama

Published by:
Publication date
Number of Pages
Type of Publication:
Articles & Journals
Focus Region:
Latin America & the Caribbean
Focus Topic:
Health & Diseases
Type of Risk:
Biological & environmental
Type of Risk Managment Option:
Risk coping
Sunshine A. Van Bael, Peter Bichier, Russell Greenberg
Smithsonian Institutions: Migratory Bird Center and Tropical Research Institute

In the Neotropics, crops that are grown in agroforestry systems with shade trees support high levels of bird diversity compared with crops grown without shade (Estrada & Coates-Estrada 2005, Faria et al. 2006). Several experiments in shaded coffee farms have explored how insectivorous birds reduce herbivore numbers and their damage to plants and have simultaneously approached ecological questions that are applied (e.g. biological control) and basic (e.g. tri-trophic interactions) (Borkhataria et al. 2006, Greenberg et al. 2000, Perfecto et al. 2004). Here we used exclosures to test whether birds lower the densities of herbivorous insects and reduce insect damage to cocoa (Theobroma cacaoL.,Sterculiaceae) foliage in shaded farms of western Panama. Although bird predation has been shown to reduce insect damage to crops in other systems (Mols & Visser 2002), we provide the ?rst test for shade-grown cocoa.