Additive Effects Of Vertebrate Predators On Insects In A Puerto Rican Coffee Plantation


  • Rena R. Borkhataria,

    1. Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611 USA
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    • 4 Present address: 27963 SW 136th Place, Homestead, Florida 33032 USA. E-mail:

  • Jaime A. Collazo,

    1. United States Geological Survey, North Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695 USA
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  • Martha J. Groom

    1. Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, University of Washington, Bothell, Washington 98011 USA and Department of Biology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195 USA
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  • Corresponding Editor: R. A. Relyea.


A variety of studies have established the value of shaded coffee plantations as habitat for birds. While the value of birds as biological controls in coffee has received some attention, the interactions between birds and other predators of insects have not been tested. We used exclosures to examine the effects of vertebrate predators on the arthropods associated with coffee, in particular the coffee leafminer (Leucoptera coffeella) and the flatid planthopper Petrusa epilepsis, in a shaded coffee plantation in Puerto Rico. We used a 2 × 2 factorial design with four treatments: exclusion of birds, lizards, birds and lizards, and control (no exclusion). Abundance of insects >5 mm increased when birds or both birds and lizards were removed. Birds and lizards had an additive effect for insects <5 mm and for all insects combined. Coffee leafminers showed a weak response to removal of predators while planthopper abundance increased significantly in the absence of avian predators. Arthropod predators and parasitoids did not differ significantly between treatments. Our findings suggest that vertebrate insectivores have an additive effect on insects in coffee and may help control abundances of some coffee pests. Equally important, we present evidence suggesting that they do not interfere with other known natural enemies of coffee pests.