Eco-Peru - Ecological intensification and multifunctionality of genetically diverse cacao agroforestry in Peruvian landscapes
Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter Blanca Ivañez Ballesteros
Promoting the conservation of biodiversity and associated services while increasing ecological food production is a major challenge for a sustainable future. Ecological intensification of tropical agroforestry and their multifunctionality presents an important contribution to this goal. However, few studies have so far addressed the highly complex interactions between local factors (i.e. genetic diversity of cacao varieties), site conditions (i.e. soil fertility) and landscape structure (i.e. surrounding habitat types; landscape connectivity) on pest suppression, pollination services, crop yields and possible tradeoffs or synergies in a comprehensive approach. In Peru and the Amazon, the ecological and commercial role of genetic diversity of cacao, including wild native relatives, is a most important, yet little studied feature. Addressing key knowledge gaps, we designed an experimental study to quantify the relative role of local cacao genetic diversity and landscape context on multiple ecosystem services (of birds, bats, ants and further arthropods contributing to biological pest control and pollination) as well as crop yield. We implement biocontrol and pollination exclosure experiments on 24 field sites and quantify all stages of the cacao life-cycle to develop suggestions for ecological intensification in the context of traditional farming practices. In collaboration with our Peruvian partners, we will disseminate results via publications and informative workshops to stakeholders such as farmers, national and international social-ecological NGOs.