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Article alert: High Bee and Wasp Diversity in a Heterogeneous Tropical Farming System Compared to Protected Forest
10.01.2013

PLoS ONE 7(12): e52109. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052109

It is a globally important challenge to meet increasing demands for resources and, at the same time, protect biodiversity and ecosystem services. Farming is usually regarded as a major threat to biodiversity due to its expansion into natural areas. We compared biodiversity of bees and wasps between heterogeneous small-scale farming areas and protected forest in northern coastal Belize, Central America. Malaise traps operated for three months during the transition from wet to dry season. Farming areas consisted of a mosaic of mixed crop types, open habitat, secondary forest, and agroforestry. Mean species richness per site (alpha diversity), as well as spatial and temporal community variation (beta diversity) of bees and wasps were equal or higher in farming areas compared to protected forest. The higher species richness and community variation in farmland was due to additional species that did not occur in the forest, whereas most species trapped in forest were also found in farming areas. The overall regional species richness (gamma diversity) increased by 70% with the inclusion of farming areas. Our results suggest that small-scale farming systems adjacent to protected forest may not only conserve, but even favour, biodiversity of some taxonomic groups. We can, however, not exclude possible declines of bee and wasp diversity in more intensified farmland or in landscapes completely covered by heterogeneous farming systems.


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