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Not all farms are created equal: Shady African cocoa farms promote a richer bat fauna

Ferreira, Diogo F.; Darling, Alexandra; Jarrett, Crinan; Atagana, Patrick Jules; Sandjo, Phallin Roméal; Taedoumg, Hermann; Welch, Andreanna J.; Rebelo, Hugo; Powell, Luke L.

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Diogo F. Ferreira

Alexandra Darling

Crinan Jarrett

Patrick Jules Atagana

Phallin Roméal Sandjo

Hermann Taedoumg

Hugo Rebelo

Luke L. Powell


Bats provide important pest suppression services with economic value to cocoa farmers, yet the impact of cocoa farm management on bat diversity metrics is still poorly understood. This is especially important if we consider that Afrotropical cocoa farms supply 68 % of the world's chocolate market, with expected increases in production in the forthcoming decades. In this study, we investigated for the first time how bat abundance, richness and diversity varied between African cocoa farms with different levels of shade tree cover, shade tree communities and cocoa characteristics. We found that shade tree cover and shade tree height were the main drivers associated with an increase of Shannon diversity, and abundance and richness of insectivores. Frugivorous and nectarivorous bats were positively associated with the presence of planted shade trees, but richness varied with the size of shade trees. The insectivorous Hipposideros fuliginosus was only present in high shade farms, being captured 51 times only in this shade system, while the frugivorous Myonycteris angolensis was associated with low shade farms. Our findings show that indeed not all farms are created equal, with high shade farms with large, tall forest shade trees (i.e., containing key plant resources) having richer bat communities. Therefore, policymakers seeking to conserve wildlife within cocoa farming systems should adopt cocoa management systems like those mentioned above and promote a combination of forest and planted shade trees to be able support a rich community of insectivorous, frugivorous and nectarivorous bats and maintain their associated ecosystems services.


Ferreira, D. F., Darling, A., Jarrett, C., Atagana, P. J., Sandjo, P. R., Taedoumg, H., …Powell, L. L. (2023). Not all farms are created equal: Shady African cocoa farms promote a richer bat fauna. Biological Conservation, 284, Article 110191.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 6, 2023
Online Publication Date Jul 9, 2023
Publication Date 2023-08
Deposit Date Oct 23, 2023
Publicly Available Date Oct 23, 2023
Journal Biological Conservation
Print ISSN 0006-3207
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 284
Article Number 110191
Keywords Nature and Landscape Conservation; Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Public URL


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