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Impact of shade on the spatial distribution of Sahlbergella singularis in traditional cocoa agroforests

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• Shade management is commonly considered to be an effective pest management strategy for cocoa mirids, yet shade management recommendations are not based on extensive knowledge of the mirid ecology in traditional cocoa agroforests.

• The main objectives of the present study were an assessment of the impact of shade on the spatial distribution of mirid populations and thus the evaluation of shade management strategies.

• Mirid densities were measured and shade was characterized for three plots located in three different agroecological zones in the Centre region of Cameroon. Mirid densities generally followed a negative binomial law. Geostatistical procedures were used to characterize spatial distribution of mirid density. Light conditions were assessed using hemispherical photography.

• Populations of Sahlbergella singularis were highly aggregated in the plots. Semivariance analysis and kriging visualized the spatial dependence of mirid densities. Clearly distinguishable mirid pockets of 20–30 adjacent infested cocoa trees were identified in two of the three plots.

• The high diversity of shade tree species and the large variability in density and size of shade trees resulted in a considerable heterogeneity of plot light conditions. Percentage transmitted light varied in the range 9.4–80.1% in the most heterogeneous plot.

• For two of the three plots, mirid pockets were aggregated in those areas where light transmission was highest. In the third plot, relatively high mirid densities and the presence of an alternative host resulted in a more homogeneous distribution. The importance of these findings for improved mirid control is discussed.

Keywords: Cocoa mirids; Distantiella theobroma; Hemiptera; Miridae; Sahlbergella singularis Hagl; Theobroma cacao; geostatistics; hemispherical photography; shade; spatial distribution

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 2010


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