Insect sampling on cocoa flowers
Insects, such as bees, ants, and spiders, play an essential role for the maintenance of ecosystems functions. They provide pollination, and biological pest-control services for myriads of plant species, and crops. Scientific evidence show that human activities and global warming are the main factors for the planetary insect decline from past decades. In our work, we want to understand how forest fragmentation, land use simplification, and excessive use of agrochemicals contributes to insect biodiversity loss and overall population decline in Southern Bahia. We also aim to contrast how biodiversity-friendly agricultural management, such as cocoa agroforestry can support the conservation of these important functional groups. We are currently using diverse direct and indirect monitoring methods to sample several insect groups within our study areas. Next year, we plan to expand our monitoring using our EcoEye Cameras.
Cocoa flowers are pollinated by a variety of insects. The largest part is formed by insects of the order thysanoptera (thrips), but also ants, flies and beetles can pollinate cocoa flowers.
This project is part of the Global Cocoa Pollination Project (GCP). This international project aims to understand the importance of cocoa pollinators for stable production in producing countries such as Indonesia, Ghana and Brazil. To find out more about the GCP project, visit the globalagroforestrynetwork.
To study the insects that interact with cocoa flowers, we collected more than a thousand flowers from hundreds of cocoa trees in the thirty research plots. We then analyzed them in the UESC laboratory to identify and quantify the species of insects present in the flowers. We found insects in around 50% of the flowers collected. Although most of the catches were thrips, we also found other types of insects, such as flies, beetles, ants, aphids and others.