The Biological and Economic Benefits of Shade Coffee Plantations in the Blue Mountain, Jamaica W.I.




Davis, Herlitz Alphonso

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Although many studies have touted the conservation value of coffee agroecosystems for migratory and resident birds, gaps do still exist in our knowledge about the suitability for birds and the economic benefit of fruit trees as shade in coffee agroecosystem. In this study I examine the habitat specific abundance, foraging ecology and performance of birds as well as the economic benefit of fruit trees as shade in coffee agroecosystems in Jamaica. Research was conducted on six shade coffee plots and in adjacent forested habitats in two distinct rainfall zones within the Yallahs River valley on the south-eastern slopes of the Blue Mountains, Jamaica. While shade coffee had higher or similar abundance for many bird species groups such as granivores and frugivores as compared to that of adjacent forest habitats, ecologically sensitive groups like forest restricted species were more abundant in adjacent forest habitats. Understory insectivorous and omnivorous bird species also exploited the shade canopy more than the coffee trees for the arthropod and nectar resources it provided. Results also suggest that rainfall, which influences arthropod biomass and quality but not the quantity of shade, are important to ensure that birds maintain overwinter body condition, depart early on migration, and return the following season. Results of a survey of local farmers suggests that they can reap additional economic rewards when fruit trees are utilized for shade on coffee farms, although this depends on management and marketing of shade tree products. Overall, this work suggests that although rainfall influences arthropod food for birds, optimizing the shade diversity where rainfall is low will benefit the bird community as well as the coffee farmers.



Ecology, Environmental economics, Climate change, Agroecoystemss, Climate change, Neotropical migrants, Shade coffee