In Drinking Your Cup of Joe, Do You Ever Think About Coffee Plantation Pests?

When you're drinking your daily cup of Joe to power your day, do you ever think about coffee plantation pests, such as the coffee borer beetle, aka coffee berry borer, Hypothenemus hampei? 

Agroecologist Estelí Jiménez-Soto, a postdoctoral scholar/lecturer at UC Santa Cruz, does. 

She will speak on "A Complex Cup of Joe: Biodiversity, Pest Control and Political Ecologies in Mexican Coffee Agroforests" at the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology virtual seminar at 4:10 p.m., Wednesday, Feb 10.

Host is Extension agricultural specialist Ian Grettenberger, who coordinates the department's seminars. Access the Google form link here to attend the seminar.

"Coffeeagroforests are great for biodiversity conservation and sustain millions of families and national economies," Jiménez-Soto says in her abstract. "Within these shaded agroecosystems, a complex network of interactions and the availability of resources maintain coffee pests in check, particularly the coffee berry borer, the most devastating insect pest for coffee. Despite the importance of biodiversity conservation and maintenance of shade in these systems, the life of people is often at odds with conservation efforts and management practices, revealing social inequalities and contradictions in plantation-like agricultural systems. In this presentation, I share socio-ecological complexities in the coffee-biodiversity nexus, focusing on ants as biocontrol agents, and the everyday lived experience of farmworkers in Mexican coffee agroforests."

Overall, Jiménez-Soto describes her research as "at the intersection of agroecology and political ecology of agriculture to understand the socioecological entanglements of food production and biodiversity conservation in Mexico and the United States."  Using a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches in ecology, anthropology and political ecology, she studies the mechanisms that drive species interactions, and the role of environmental change and agricultural management on insect community dynamics, ecosystem functions, and the every-day lived experience of farmers and farmworkers in coffee agroecosystems. Currently she is working on a project to assess the barriers and opportunities to the adoption of agroecological practices in strawberry production in California and Florida. 

Jiménez-Soto was quoted in a National Geographic feature article, "How This Invasive Snail Could Save Your Coffee from Destruction," published on March 10, 2020. Sharing her expertise on both coffee and biocontrol measures, she told writer Forest Ray: "Classic approaches to pest control have often failed to understand this complexity, causing major natural disasters."  

She holds a master's degree and doctorate in environmental studies from UC Santa Cruz, receiving her master's degree in 2015 and her doctorate in 2018. 

For technical issues involving the seminar, contact Grettenberger at A list of the remaining virtual seminars for the winter quarter (with the Zoom links) are here.