S. Amanda Caudill is a doctoral student and part-time NYT science blogger, currently working in Costa Rica assessing mammal diversity on coffee farms. She and her colleagues found a fascinating link between coffee farms near forest patches and the reduction of awful cherry borer beetles, a detestable sub-phylum whose only goal is to get its grubby little beetle teeth all over delicious coffee cherries. The borer beetle is plaguing coffee crops worldwide and Ms. Caudill (and her peers) may have found an environmentally sound way to cull those awful bugs:
If there are forest patches next to coffee farms, the forests may act as a barrier and reduce coffee berry borer outbreaks without the use of toxic chemicals or large amounts of labor. So part of my research — in addition to investigating mammal biodiversity — is to understand if these forest patches next to coffee farms could increase habitat value and provide corridors for mammals.
This “coffee-forest matrix,” as it’s called, could be a win-win situation, creating a barrier for the coffee pests while protecting forests and wildlife habitat. I am interested to find out if this theory holds true. We will have to wait and see what shakes out after all the data is collected and analyzed.
Image from MauiFeed.com. Secondary image via Thumbelina: