Chocolate is made from cocoa beans that grow on pollinator-dependent trees in the tropical areas of the world. Yet, surprisingly little is known about the natural pollinators of cocoa trees and what makes them stay or go in cocoa plantations.
In his recent paper hot off the press, Manuel Toledo-Hernández, analyzed cocoa tree flower visitors in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia to understand how landscape and farm-level factors affect potential pollinators. Manu found that ants and diptera, but not ceratopogonids were the most common flower visitors. The results suggest that conservation of forests and agroforests surrounding the farm, maintaining canopy cover and minimum leaf-litter can enhance cocoa flower visitors.
This paper is an exciting and important contribution to the discussion about the conservation of cocoa pollinators and sustainable cocoa production. And it also contains some very fine artwork by the lead author himself (take a look at the image below).