The role of the agricultural matrix: coffee management and euglossine bee (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Euglossini) communities in southern Mexico

Environ Entomol. 2013 Dec;42(6):1210-7. doi: 10.1603/EN13087. Epub 2013 Oct 14.


With growing concern surrounding global pollinator declines, it is important to understand how habitat destruction and agricultural intensification impact pollinator communities. Euglossine bees are tropical forest-dependent pollinators responsible for pollination of both economically important crops and wild plant species. A growing body of work has focused on the effect of habitat fragmentation on euglossine bees, yet little is known about how these bees are impacted by agricultural intensification. Coffee cultivation is widespread in the tropics, and its management is conducted along a gradient of intensity, which ranges from monoculture (i.e., no shade, high inputs) to polyculture (shade overstory retained, fewer inputs). We used a landscape in Soconusco, Chiapas, Mexico, that allowed for comparison between monoculture and polyculture coffee farms, while holding distance to native habitat, as well as native habitat quality, constant. We found that habitat management influenced abundance, estimated richness, and community composition of euglossine bees. The polyculture coffee farm boasts a more similar community composition to the forest than to the monoculture coffee farm. In addition, the polyculture farm had almost double the euglossine abundance compared with the monoculture farm. Our results suggest that coffee management regimes may strongly impact euglossine communities and that less intensive polyculture approaches may mitigate species losses of this important group of pollinators.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bees*
  • Biodiversity*
  • Coffea*
  • Male
  • Mexico
  • Population Density