The variety of bee species living in the belt from Brazil to southern Mexico are likely to decline sharply under those conditions. Coffee plants may shift their range to higher elevations to compensate for warmer temperatures, but there’s less land available at those altitudes.
The findings were published today in the US-based research journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study was led by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture and included participants from Peru, Costa Rica, France, and the United States.
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The effects aren’t expected to be uniform. A few parts of the coffee belt, mostly in southern Mexico and Central America, would become more amenable to the plant under these projections, Ricketts said. In those areas, both the suitability of coffee and the diversity of bee species are expected to increase, while in other areas, one or both are likely to go down.
But in general, climate change is likely to make most of the region less hospitable — and that has the potential to cause upheavals in countries where it’s a cash crop. The map the researchers produced could help guide efforts to adapt to those changes, either by moving the crops, finding other livelihoods for farmers, new options for pollination, or new ways to grow the beans.
“Coffee is grown by about 25 million farmers in more than 60 countries all over the world, and probably 100 million people are involved in its production,” Ricketts said. “Most of those people are rural and poor. So it’s a huge factor in the livelihoods and economic development of some really vulnerable people and communities.”
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