Landscape context and scale differentially impact coffee leaf rust, coffee berry borer, and coffee root-knot nematodes.Ecol Appl. 2012 Mar; 22(2):584-96.EA
Crop pest and disease incidences at plot scale vary as a result of landscape effects. Two main effects can be distinguished. First, landscape context provides habitats of variable quality for pests, pathogens, and beneficial and vector organisms. Second, the movements of these organisms are dependent on the connectivity status of the landscape. Most of the studies focus on indirect effects of landscape context on pest abundance through their predators and parasitoids, and only a few on direct effects on pests and pathogens. Here we studied three coffee pests and pathogens, with limited or no pressure from host-specific natural enemies, and with widely varying life histories, to test their relationships with landscape context: a fungus, Hemileia vastatrix, causal agent of coffee leaf rust; an insect, the coffee berry borer, Hypothenemus hampei (Coleoptera: Curculionidae); and root-knot nematodes, Meloidogyne spp. Their incidence was assessed in 29 coffee plots from Turrialba, Costa Rica. In addition, we characterized the landscape context around these coffee plots in 12 nested circular sectors ranging from 50 to 1500 m in radius. We then performed correlation analysis between proportions of different land uses at different scales and coffee pest and disease incidences. We obtained significant positive correlations, peaking at the 150 m radius, between coffee berry borer abundance and proportion of coffee in the landscape. We also found significant positive correlations between coffee leaf rust incidence and proportion of pasture, peaking at the 200 m radius. Even after accounting for plot level predictors of coffee leaf rust and coffee berry borer through covariance analysis, the significance of landscape structure was maintained. We hypothesized that connected coffee plots favored coffee berry borer movements and improved its survival. We also hypothesized that wind turbulence, produced by low-wind-resistance land uses such as pasture, favored removal of coffee leaf rust spore clusters from host surfaces, resulting in increased epidemics. In contrast, root-knot nematode population density was not correlated to landscape context, possibly because nematodes are almost immobile in the soil. We propose fragmenting coffee plots with forest corridors to control coffee berry borer movements between coffee plots without favoring coffee leaf rust dispersal.