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  • Small birds save big money for Costa Rica's farmers

Flickr/Tom Tetzner/USFWS

Speed read

  • Insect-eating birds halved borer pest numbers on coffee farms in Costa Rica

  • The more forest patches there were near a farm, the greater the protection was

  • The findings could provide a new incentive to protect wildlife

Research in Costa Rica shows that wild birds significantly reduce damage by a devastating coffee pest, the coffee berry borer beetle, contributing to huge savings to local farms and providing incentive to protect wildlife habitat, Nature News reported yesterday.

The study found that insectivorous birds, such as yellow warblers, halved infestations by the beetle Hypothenemus hampei, saving a medium-sized coffee farm up to US$9,400 over a year's harvest — roughly equal to Costa Rica's average per-capita income.

“We know that native wildlife can provide you with a pretty significant benefit.”

Daniel Karp,
Stanford University

And the more forest grew on and near a coffee farm, the more birds the farm had, and the lower its infestation rates were, found the study published in Ecology Letters (27 August).

"Based on this study, we know that native wildlife can provide you with a pretty significant benefit,"  Daniel Karp, a conservation biologist at Stanford University in California, who led the study, told Nature News. "Incorporating their conservation into your management of pests is absolutely something you should do."

Previous research, published in Conservation Biology, showed that birds in Jamaica have a similar effect.

Link to full article in Nature News

Link to abstract in Ecology Letters

Link to full article in Conservation Biology

References

Ecology Letters doi: 10.1111/ele.12173 (2013)
Conservation Biology doi: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2008.00968.x (2008)