Biodiversity is important in agriculture systems. Animal pollinators and natural pest predators play an important regulative role in food production – particularly as it relates to the bio-physical and environment driver of food systems. About 35% of global food production is dependent on animal pollination. The availability and diversity of pollinators and natural pest predators is easily affected by landscape-level changes. In Malawi, macadamia farming is on the increase – both as a commercial and smallholder farmer crop. In either case, the macadamia crop, which is animal-pollinated, is grown surrounded by subsistence farmers cultivating traditional animal-pollinated crops. This presents opportunities for pollinator sharing but also creates potential competition.
This research will investigate the diversity of insect pollinators and birds as pest predators on macadamia farms and the subsistence farms within a 200 m radius of the macadamia operations. The project will further explore the extent to which pollination and pest predation ecosystem services/dis-services generally might depend on the way macadamia is grown (monocrop/intercrop). It will also explore if there is sufficient overlap such that traditional crops and macadamia share the same species for the two services. Insect and bird sampling will take place in the target farming systems using transects and point counts. The study will investigate whether farming system types impact these species. Furthermore, the possible benefits of placing beehives on a macadamia farm will be explored. These data can be used to improve both the quantity and quality of the yield of traditional animal-pollinated crops and to inform policy efforts aimed at increasing macadamia yields, taking into account the needs of neighbouring subsistence farmers.