Conservation biocontrol of a major insect pest of coffee in Colombia: Improving coffee production across landscapes

Project: PhD

Project Details


The worldwide sustainability of coffee production is threatened by pests, diseases, and global warming. In Colombia, the Coffee Berry Borer (CBB) is a major problem. This beetle reduces crop yield and quality by drilling the coffee berries and feeding on the beans during the beetle’s immature stages. Coffee farmers have developed CBB control strategies such as the use of chemical insecticides, the manual collection of infested berries, and the use of entomopathogenic fungi, but despite these practices, CBB remains a major problem in coffee production. A promising yet understudied approach to CBB control is conservation biological control (CBC), defined as the regulation of pest populations by supporting populations of naturally occurring natural enemies. While there is circumstantial evidence that native natural enemies, such as ants, predate on CBB, it remains unknown how together farmer’s management practices and the landscape surrounding coffee farms affect the potential of native natural enemies to suppress CBB infestation and enhance crop production. This research aims to identify barriers and opportunities for CBB conservation biocontrol in Colombia by considering the multi-faceted reality that farmers encounter when they must develop pest control strategies for their crops. For this purpose, we will assess in Organic, Conventional and IPM coffee farms: (1) Farmers’ knowledge and perceptions about CBB, pest management, and CBB biocontrol; (2) CBB infestation levels and natural enemy communities in different landscape contexts; and (3) the impact of these local natural enemies on CBB population dynamics and coffee yield, with special emphasis on ants (4).
Effective start/end date1/10/21 → …


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