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Spatial pattern analyses of cocoa (Theobroma cacao) agroforests in the Talamanca region, Costa Rica

Gidoin C., Avelino J., Cilas C., Deheuvels O., Ngo Bieng M.A.. 2010. In : Wery Jacques (ed.), Shili-Touzi I. (ed.), Perrin A. (ed.). Proceedings of Agro 2010 : the XIth ESA Congress, August 29th - September 3rd, 2010, Montpellier, France. Montpellier : Agropolis international, p. 277-278. ESA Congress. 11, 2010-08-29/2010-09-03, Montpellier (France).

A major challenge in agronomy is to improve crop yields in eco-friendly agrosystems, especially given the human population increase forecast for around 2050. In this context of ecological intensification, use of natural ecological processes in agrosystems is an avenue to be explored. Natural ecosystems are characterized by strong heterogeneity, which would seem to give greater stability in their functioning, and thus more sustainable productivity (Barot et al., 2004). Agroforestry is an agrosystem which uses that property of heterogeneity in terms of species composition (huge number of species) and spatial structure (vertical, horizontal, etc.) (Torquebiau, 2004). Several researchers have shown an interest in the species diversity of these systems, while very few have focused on characterizing their spatial structure. The spatial structure of a stand is defined as the organization of individuals in space. It describes the local biotic environment around every tree, in interaction with the abiotic environment (Goreaud et al., 1999). In complex agrosystems, such as agroforests, spatial structure could thus affect crop yields, particularly through favorable modifications to the microclimate and plant functioning, or by influencing pests and diseases (e.g. decrease in host density, barrier effect) (Schroth et al., 2000). Spatial structure is an interesting characteristic of complex agrosystems, not only for their description, but also for understanding their functioning.

Mots-clés : theobroma cacao; agroforesterie; costa rica

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