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Assessing the ecological impact of banana farms on water quality using aquatic macroinvertebrate community composition
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology. (Marine Ecotoxicology)
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology. (Marine Ecotoxicology)
Wageningen University, Department of Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology. (Marine Ecotoxicology)
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(English)In: Science of the Total Environment, ISSN 0048-9697, E-ISSN 1879-1026Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

In Costa Rica considerable effort goes to conservation and protection of biodiversity while at the same time agricultural pesticide use is among the highest in the world. Several protected areas, some being wetlands or marine reserves, are situated downstream agricultural areas where large-scale banana farms constitute a major land use, with an average of 57 pesticide applications per year. The banana industry is increasingly aware of the need to reduce their negative environmental impact, but few ecological field studies have been made to evaluate the efficiency of proposed mitigation strategies. This study evaluated if benthic macroinvertebrate community structure is sensitive enough to detect environmental impact of banana farming, and thereby usable to measure improvements in pesticide management practices. Aquatic invertebrate samples were collected at 13 sites between March and April 2007, using kick-net sampling. Samples were taken both up- and downstream banana farms in fast flowing streams, with mostly cobbles for substrate in runs and riffles. The changes in community composition were measured at the family level using ordination methods. Additionally, the Biological Monitoring Working Party (BMWP) score system was applied along with a number of community composition descriptors. In total, 2890 specimens were collected, belonging to 14 orders and 49 families or taxa. The results support the hypothesis that surface waters immediately up- and downstream large-scale banana farms have different macroinvertebrate community compositions, with fewer sensitive taxa according to the BMWP-score values at the downstream sites. Rapid assessment using macroinvertebrate community composition thus appears to be a possible means to detect negative impact from chemical-intense agriculture. As the method is moderately time-consuming, low-cost and highly ecologically relevant it could become a useful complement to chemical analysis of pesticide residues in environmental risk assessment.

Keyword [en]
Costa Rica, banana production, aquatic benthic macro invertebrate, water quality
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Ecotoxicology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-61850OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-61850DiVA: diva2:438179
Available from: 2011-09-01 Created: 2011-09-01 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Costa Rican coffee and bananas: A social-ecological study of management practices and their effects on the environment
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Costa Rican coffee and bananas: A social-ecological study of management practices and their effects on the environment
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis investigates the variability in management practices on coffee and banana farms in an attempt to identify practices that reduce the environmental impact of export crop production. Different banana production systems are studied to determine their level of environmental impact. Insect sampling and bird surveys are used to assess the level of ecological quality on banana farms and their surrounding environments. The first two studies are based on interview methods and focus more on the social aspects of the production system. Paper I identifies how farmers utilize labor and herbicides in weed control practices, and found that small-scale coffee farmers overuse herbicides when their relative use of herbicides to labor to control weed densities is compared to their large-scale counterparts and small-scale organic producers. Paper II attempts to identify variability in management practices for the production of export bananas, but instead finds that there is only one type of export banana production system. However, there are lessons to be learned from organic and banana-coffee intercropping systems of production.

Papers III-V use the information gathered in the interview studies of Paper II to give context to the results from analysis of ecological indicators collected from banana farms. Paper III is a comparison of insect community composition on high-input, low-input and organic banana farms. Paper IV is an analysis of aquatic macroinvertebrate in surface water sites upstream and downstream of banana farm canal entry points. Finally, Paper V is a comparison of ecological effects of management practices between Rainforest Alliance certified farms and non-RainforestAlliancecertified farms. Results showed that low-input banana production is not as good as organic production with regards to ecological impact, but it can still make a difference when compared to high-input banana production. Rainforest Alliance certified farms, however, are not low-input systems and the changes that they make in production practices are not enough to influence the quality of the ecological system. These results are encouraging for low-input production systems, but show that standards for Rainforest Alliance certification need to be tougher in order to make an impact on ecological indicators.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, 2011. 46 p.
Keyword
Costa Rica, coffee, banana, production system, pesticides, organic, conventional, Rainforest Alliance certification
National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Marine Ecotoxicology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-61221 (URN)978-91-7447-349-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-10-10, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Submitted. Paper 3: Submitted. Paper 4: Submitted. Paper 5: Manuscript.Available from: 2011-09-19 Created: 2011-08-22 Last updated: 2011-09-16Bibliographically approved

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