This award supports interdisciplinary research and training on ecosystem services by Dr. Matthew Johnson of Humboldt State University, in collaboration with economist Dr. Steven Hackett together with international researchers from ICIPE Nairobi, National Museums of Kenya, the University of the West Indies and the Jamaican Conservation and Development Trust (JCDT). The project trains small groups of undergraduate and graduate students on research to develop coffee cultivation practices that optimize bird biodiversity, insect pest control, and coffee crop yield. Students will take fall semester preparatory courses and then engage in 5 weeks of field research during the winter break (Jamaica in year 1, and Kenya in years 2 and 3).
Through a comparative analysis of Jamaican and Kenyan coffee farms, this research will develop knowledge of the complex relationships between bird biodiversity, tree canopies (supply both habitat for birds and shade to coffee farms) and pest control services provided by the birds. In addition to contributing to the science of ecosystem services, this research also provides insight into habitats for migratory birds traveling from northern to tropical climates and trains new scientists competent in collaborative international research.
. This 3-year project engaged cohorts of undergraduate and graduate students in applied research conducted in Kenya and Jamaica. The project resulted in the following outcomes: provided 12 students a perspective for working in developing tropical countries enabled the students to link field ecology and economic analyses to investigate ecosystem services and conservation advanced the understanding of how biodiversity, associated ecosystem services, and crop yields balance to influence optimal conservation practices in agricultural settings provided opportunities for the professional growth of students and faculty by catalyzing new international cooperative research, training, networking, and mentoring. enabled students and faculty to compare and contrast research experiences in two nations that share some social, economic, and environmental circumstances help cultivate the next generation of scientists capable of operating in an international research environment and a global market. Specifically, the research resulted in the completion of seven undergraduate theses and three master's theses. This work, in collaboration with international partners in both Jamaica and Kenya, resulted in several peer-reviewed publications, usually with student authors. The work also prompted additional funding from USAID for our Kenyan collaborator. In Jamaica, a key finding was that economic profit from coffee farms can be maximized by including some canopy trees in farms, which provide habitat for birds that help control insect pests. In Kenya, we learned that birds can remove insect pests, and this removal was assoiciated with proximity to nearby patches of forest habitat. We also learned that in Kenya, unlike in most other parts of the world that have been studied, the bird community was not substantially more diverse or abundant in shaded coffee than in coffee grown under full sunlight.