Produce coffee in shaded plantations

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
    not assessed
  • Certainty
    not assessed
  • Harms
    not assessed

Study locations

Key messages

  • Two studies evaluated the effects on butterflies and moths of producing coffee in shaded plantations. One study was in each of Puerto Rico and Mexico.


  • Richness/diversity (1 study): One site comparison study in Mexico found that shaded coffee plantations had a higher species richness of caterpillars than a sun-grown monoculture.


  • Abundance (2 studies): Two site comparison studies (including one replicated study) in Puerto Rico and Mexico found that shade-grown coffee plantations had a greater abundance of caterpillars than sun-grown coffee plantations. One of these studies also found that the abundance of coffee leaf miner was similar in shade-grown and sun-grown plantations.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A replicated, site comparison study in 1999–2000 in six coffee plantations in Puerto Rico (Borkhataria et al 2012) found that shade-grown coffee plantations had a higher abundance of caterpillars than sun-grown coffee plantations. In shade-grown coffee plantations, the abundance of caterpillars (1.3 individuals/tree) was higher than in sun-grown plantations (0.6 individuals/tree). However, the abundance of a coffee pest species (coffee leaf miner Leucoptera coffeela) was not significantly different in shade-grown (2.0 individuals/tree) and sun-grown coffee (1.7 individuals/tree). In April 1999 and March–April 2000, caterpillars were surveyed in two or three randomly-located plots (>120 m apart) in each of three shade- and three sun-grown coffee plantations (1.35–5.95 ha). Caterpillars were surveyed by turning 100 leaves (>10 cm long, 0.5–2 m high) in each of 12–14 coffee trees/plot.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A site comparison study in 2016 in five coffee plantations in Veracruz, Mexico (Sosa-Aranda et al. 2018) found that shaded coffee plantations had a higher abundance and species richness of caterpillars than a sun-grown monoculture plantation. On four polyculture and shaded monoculture coffee plantations, the abundance (124–212 individuals) and species richness (83–129 species) of caterpillars was higher than in a sun-grown coffee monoculture (abundance: 47 individuals; richness: 46 species). In addition, the amount of damage found on coffee leaves was not related to either caterpillar abundance or species richness (data not presented). The management intensity of five coffee plantations was measured based on 10 vegetation characteristics (including canopy cover, epiphyte cover, area of shade trees and presence of herbs) and the frequency of six external inputs (fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, irrigation and ploughing). In July, September and December 2016, all caterpillars were collected by hand from all plants along three 30 × 2-m transects in the centre of each plantation, and reared to adults for species identification.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Bladon A.J., Smith R.K. & Sutherland W.J. (2022) Butterfly and Moth Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions for butterflies and moths. Conservation Evidence Series Synopsis. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

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Butterfly and Moth Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Butterfly and Moth Conservation
Butterfly and Moth Conservation

Butterfly and Moth Conservation - Published 2022

Butterfly and Moth Synopsis

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