In many tropical landscapes, agroforestry systems are the last forested ecosystems, providing shade, having higher humidity, mitigating potential droughts, and possessing more species than any other crop system. Here, we tested the hypothesis that higher levels of shade and associated humidity in agroforestry enhance coffee ant richness more during the dry than rainy season, comparing ant richness in 22 plots of three coffee agroforestry types in coastal Ecuador: simple-shade agroforests (intensively managed with low tree species diversity), complex-shade agroforests (extensively managed with intermediate tree species diversity) and abandoned coffee agroforests (abandoned for 10–15 yr and resembling secondary forests). Seasonality affected responses of ant richness but not composition to agroforestry management, in that most species were observed in abandoned coffee agroforests in the dry season. In the rainy season, however, most species were found in simple-shade agroforests, and complex agroforestry being intermediate. Foraging coffee ants species composition did not change differently according to agroforestry type and season. Results show that shade appears to be most important in the dry seasons, while a mosaic of different land-use types may provide adequate environmental conditions to ant species, maximizing landscape-wide richness throughout the year.
hierarchical partitioning analysis