Improving ecosystem services in cacao

Improving ecosystem services in cacao

Title of Project

Improving ecosystem services in cacao

Name of Advisor/s

Tobin Northfield


College of Science & Engineering

Summary of Project

Cocoa is vital for livelihoods of 50 million people worldwide and is a US$10 billion/yr industry millions throughout the tropics, with growing demand. However, yields are generally severely limited by low pollination and fruit retention rates. Therefore, we are conducting ecological experiments to improve pollination and biological control to increase yields of cocoa. These include methods of increasing densities of the midge pollinators and natural predators, such as skinks, spiders, ants, and parasitoid wasps, as well as evaluating the effectiveness of each species at their respective ecosystem service.

Key Words

Pollination, predation, agroecology

Would suit an applicant who

Is highly motivated, and interested in field work, with a keen interest in species interactions, but also wants to keep research tied to applications for human well-being.