Green Acres … is the place to be! Oh yeah!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Picture verdant farmland spreading out far and wide! But this is no ordinary farm… its green fields are sprinkled with trees and shrubs. It’s an AGRO-FOREST! Traditional farms in Peru cut forests down. But agroforests produce food AND preserve animal habitats!

Carolina Ocampo-Ariza from the University of Gottingen and colleagues wondered: can cacao forests – AKA chocolate! – share the land with birds and bats? 

The researchers monitored four dry tropical forests and twelve neighboring wetter cacao agroforests in northern Peru. The team counted how many birds and bats were in each forest during both dry and wet seasons. They also recorded the different species. 

Results? More birds flocked to cacao agroforests during the dry season versus the wet season. Bats? They went KOO-KOO for cacao agroforests no matter the season! Researchers saw almost TWICE as many bat species in cacao agroforests than in the dry forests.

In short, cacao beans are CHOC full of conservation potential for our flying friends! And also numminess. “Must. . . have. . . chocolate!”

Reference: Ocampo-Ariza, C., Maas, B., Castro-Namuche, J. P., et al. (2022). Trait-dependent responses of birds and bats to season and dry forest distance in tropical agroforestry. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 325, 107751.