Implications of shifts in coffee production on tree species richness, composition and structure on small farms around Mount Kenya

Sammy Carsan*, Aldo Stroebel, Ian Dawson, Roeland Kindt, Frans Swanepoel, Ramni Jamnadass

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Small coffee farms around Mount Kenya in Kenya contain many planted and remnant tree species but little is known in the region about the relationship between trees on farms and the methods and dynamics of coffee production. Shifts in production may alter tree diversity and potentially impact on future biodiversity conservation efforts by affecting niches available for indigenous trees on farms. Here, knowledge was gathered on how changes in coffee production on 180 small farms around Mount Kenya may affect tree diversity, categorizing farms according to coffee yield levels over a period of five years as increasing, decreasing or stable production. Tree species richness, abundance and composition were analyzed using species accumulation curves, Rènyi diversity profiles, rank abundance and ecological distance ordinations, and the effects of coffee production examined using quasi-Poisson generalized linear regressions. Species richness were positively correlated with tree basal area but negatively related to coffee, banana and maize yields value. A difference in average tree species richness, abundance and basal area on increasing farms was observed compared to the decreasing and stable farms, even though formal tests on richness and densities differences were inconclusive. These dynamics do not significantly influence vegetation structure but seem to have a bearing on species composition on farms of different coffee production. The overall low abundance (23 % of trees) but high richness (78 % of species) of indigenous trees on coffee farms could change markedly if the dynamics observed in the current study persist, indicating the need for the development of intensified multi-species cropping systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2919-2936
Number of pages18
JournalBiodiversity and Conservation
Issue number12
Publication statusFirst published - 14 Sept 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Agroforestry
  • Coffee production systems
  • Smallholders
  • Tree diversity
  • Vegetation structure


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