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From natural forest to coffee agroforest: implications for communities of large mammals in the Ethiopian highlands

  • Jan E. J. Mertens (a1), Willem-Jan Emsens (a2), Merlijn Jocqué (a1), Lore Geeraert (a3) and Matthias De Beenhouwer (a1)...
Abstract

In tropical regions the extent of agricultural land is increasing rapidly at the expense of natural forest, with associated losses of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Agroforestry has long been proposed as a more sustainable agricultural system, conserving biodiversity while providing significant local livelihoods. In this context, camera traps were deployed to compare communities of large mammals between natural forest (22,272 hours across 24 deployments) and extensively managed coffee forest (19,059 hours, 23 deployments) for the first time in the south-west Ethiopian highlands. Mammal communities in the two forest types were similar in species richness and Shannon diversity but differed in community composition. Significant indicator species of coffee forest were the crested porcupine Hystrix cristata and the Ethiopian hare Lepus fagani, whereas leopards Panthera pardus and civets Civettictis civetta had a preference for natural forest. The number of detections of mammals was higher in coffee forest, where activity patterns were predominantly crepuscular and nocturnal, which may be a direct adaptation to frequent human disturbance. In natural forest, mammal activity peaked during daytime. Despite the high mammal diversity in extensively managed coffee forest, it cannot fully replace natural forest as a habitat for large mammals. We suggest that a balanced landscape mosaic of coffee and natural forest may be a valuable combination for both conservation and coffee cultivation.

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(Corresponding author) E-mail bincovzw@gmail.com
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Supplementary material for this article is available at https://doi.org/10.1017/S0030605318000844

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