Navigation Links
Another reason to drink a nice cup of shade-grown joe

A new study published in the December 23rd issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, reveals another "eco-friendly" reason to select shade-grown coffee over beans that were grown in the sun: Shade coffee farms not only harbor a diverse array of birds and bats, but they also help to maintain the genetic diversity of native tree species.

"Shade coffee farms allow birds and bats to move and disperse seeds throughout the coffee landscape, promoting plant gene flow," said Shalene Jha of the University of Michigan. "This is unlike most agricultural systems, which do not provide habitat for seed dispersers, and thus limit the distance plant seeds can move. By supporting important seed dispersal processes, shade coffee farms maintain plant population gene flow across fragmented habitats."

Gene flow refers to the transfer of genes from one population to another by interbreeding. The maintenance of gene flow is an important conservation measure since fragmented populations are effectively smaller and therefore more susceptible to inbreeding and further declines or extinction.

Coffee is grown across millions of hectares of land within the world's richest centers of biodiversity, the researchers said. In tropical America, that coffee is traditionally grown under a diverse canopy of shade trees, which supports a broad spectrum of pollinators that increases coffee yield. Unlike sun coffee grown in monoculture, shade coffee also provides habitat to a wide array of other animals, including bats and migratory birds that aid farmers by picking off insects. Earlier studies had suggested that birds and other animals within shade coffee farms might have additional ecological benefits.

Now, the researchers have confirmed that notion through genetic analyses revealing recent colonization and extensive gene flow of native understory tree species in shade coffee farms of Chiapas, Mexico. The findings show that traditional coffee farms can maintain genetic connectivity with adjacent forest and serve as a focal point for forest regeneration.

Jha said they hope the discovery calls attention to the value of maintaining biodiverse agricultural systems more generally.

"More than 60% of the earth's surface is managed by humans as agriculture or pasture, and these landscapes provide us with a great opportunity to support native biodiversity," Jha said. "Many studies have shown that conserving native biodiversity in agricultural systems can actually benefit cropsby preventing pest outbreaks and providing native pollinator services. Our study shows that agricultural crops can also benefit native trees living across the landscape."

Buying shade-grown coffee is one way to support the conservation of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes at a global scale, she said. At the local level, Jha added, consumers can also support local farming practices that conserve native biodiversity, such as pesticide-free farming, polyculture farms, and urban gardening.


Contact: Cathleen Genova
Cell Press

Related biology news :

1. One species entire genome discovered inside anothers
2. Same gene protects from 1 disease, opens door to another
3. Another type of nanotube, a how-to guide to making bamboo-structured carbon nanotubes
4. For good or ill Ireland gains another mammal species
5. Ocean acidification -- another undesired side effect of fossil fuel-burning
6. Viral recombination another way HIV fools the immune system
7. Arctic ice on the verge of another all-time low
8. Another fisheries commission throws the science overboard in tuna decision, WWF says
9. A wheat for all seasons -- and reasons
10. Simple reason helps males evolve more quickly
11. Study supports reason for concern in childhood and adolescent obesity
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/17/2015)... Mass. , Nov. 17, 2015 Pressure ... leader in the development and sale of broadly enabling, ... worldwide life sciences industry, today announced it has received ... its $5 million Private Placement (the "Offering"), increasing the ... $4,025,000.  One or more additional closings are expected in ...
(Date:11/11/2015)... 11, 2015   MedNet Solutions , an innovative SaaS-based ... research, is pleased to announce that it will be a ... event, to be held November 17-19 in ... live demonstrations of iMedNet , MedNet,s easy-to-use, ... iMedNet has been able to deliver time and cost ...
(Date:11/4/2015)... , November 4, 2015 ... new market report published by Transparency Market Research "Home Security ... Trends and Forecast 2015 - 2022", the global home security ... 30.3 bn by 2022. The market is estimated to ... period from 2015 to 2022. Rising security needs among ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... LUMPUR, Malaysia , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... global contract research organisation (CRO) market. The trend ... result in lower margins but higher volume share ... increased capacity and scale, however, margins in the ... Research Organisation (CRO) Market ( ), ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 2015 /CNW/ - iCo Therapeutics ("iCo" or "the Company") ... for the quarter ended September 30, 2015. Amounts, ... and presented under International Financial Reporting Standards ("IFRS"). ... said Andrew Rae , President & CEO ... not only value enriching for this clinical program, ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 2015  Clintrax Global, Inc., a worldwide provider of clinical research ... announced that the company has set a new quarterly earnings record ... quarter growth posted for Q3 of 2014 to Q3 of 2015. ... Mexico , with the establishment of an Asia-Pacific ... United Kingdom and Mexico ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Massachusetts , November 24, 2015 SHPG ... will participate in the Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual Healthcare ... Tuesday, December 1, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. EST (1:30 p.m. GMT). ... , Chief Financial Officer, will participate in the Piper Jaffray 27 ... , NY on Tuesday, December 1, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: