Ivette Perfecto, Ph.D.


Ph.D. Natural Resources, 1989, University of Michigan
M.S. Ecology, 1982, University of Michigan
B.S. Biology, 1977, Universidad Sagrado Corazón, Puerto Rico

Ivette Perfecto is the George W. Pack Professor of Ecology, Natural Resources and Environment. Her research focuses on biodiversity and arthropod-mediated ecosystem services in rural and urban agriculture. She also works on spatial ecology of the coffee agroecosystem and is interested more broadly on the links between small-scale sustainable agriculture, biodiversity and food sovereignty. She teaches Our Common Future (a course on globalization) (Environ 270), Diverse Farming Systems (SNRE 553), Field Ecology (SNRE 556). She is co-author of three books, Breakfast of Biodiversity,  Nature’s Matrix: Linking Agriculture, Conservation and Food Sovereignty, and Coffee Agroecology.

More specifically her lab is investigating how local level multi-species interactions generate autonomous pest control in agroecosystems using coffee agroforests as a model system. In collaboration with John Vandermeer (University of Michigan) and Stacy Philpott (University of California-Santa Cruz) they established a 45-hectare plot in a shaded organic coffee plantation in Chiapas, Mexico, and are conducting research on complex ecological interactions among pests, diseases and natural enemies. In collaboration with Luis Garcia-Barrios from ECOSUR-San Cristobal (Mexico) and John Vandermeer (University of Michigan), they are developing games to help farmers and students better understand ecological complexity in agroecosystems.  Another research project examines how local and landscape level factors affect diversity and ecosystem services (pollination and pest control) in urban gardens in Southeast Michigan.  More general interests include the role of the agricultural matrix in the conservation of biodiversity, food sovereignty and political ecology in the Global South, especially Latin America.

Teaching Interests:

In my courses I like to challenge students to think for themselves. Most of my courses have a strong Latin American flavor because I am from Latin America (Puerto Rico) and I conduct research in Latin America (Mexico, Mesoamerica and Puerto Rico). Most of my courses are interdisciplinary and are taught from a social justice perspective. I teach undergraduate courses in sustainable development and globalization, and the agroecology and political ecology of food systems, a graduate course in field ecology and graduate seminars on topics that range from conservation in fragmented habitats to food sovereignty.

Recent Publications 2013-2014 (* = students):

  1. Li*, K., J. Vandermeer and I. Perfecto. In Press. Agricultural intensification increases the spatial distribution of an endogenous biological control system through the mediating role of trees in a coffee agroecosystem. Royal Society Open Science.

  2. Goulard, F., I. Perfecto, J. Vandermeer, D. Boucher, M. J. Chappell, G. Wilson Fernandez, A. Scariot, M. Correa Da Silva, W. L. Oliviera, R. Neville, J. Moor, M. Bustamante, S. Carvalho Ribeiro, B. Soares-Filho. In Press. The doubt promise of beef production to environmental conservation: Response to Oliveira Silva. Nature Climate Change.

  3. Maas, B. D. S. Karp, S. J. Bumrungsri, K. Darras, D. Gonthier*, J. C. –C. Huang,  C. Lindell, J. Maine, L. Mestre, L. Michel, E. Morrison, I. Perfecto, S. M. Philpott, C. H. Sekercioglu, R. M. Silva, P. Taylor, T. Tscharntke, S. Van Bael, C. J. Whelan, and K. Williams-Guillén*. In press. Bird and bat predation services in tropical forestry and agroforestry landscapes. Biological Reviews.

  4. James, T. Y., J. A. Marino, I. Perfecto and J. Vandermeer. 2016. Identification of coffee rust mycoparasites using single molecule DNA sequencing of infected pustules. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 82 (2): 631-636.

  5. Marin*, L., S. M. Philpott, A. de la Mora, G. Ibarra, S. Tryban and I. Perfecto. 2016. Response of ground spiders to local and landscape factors in a Mexican coffee landscape. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 222: 80-92.

  6. Perfecto, I. and J. Vandermeer. 2015. Structural constrains in novel ecosystems in agriculture: the rapid emergence of stereotypic modules. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 17: 522-530.

  7. Vandermeer, J. and I. Perfecto. 2015. Complex traditions in agroecology: intersecting theoretical frameworks in agroecological research. In: Méndez, V. E., C. M. Bacon, R. Cohen, and S. R. Gliessman (eds.), Agroecology: A Transdisciplinary, Participatory and Action-oriented Approach, CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group.

  8. Morris*, J. J. Vandermeer and I. Perfecto. 2015. A keystone ant species provides robust biological control of the coffee berry borer under varying pest densities. PLoS ONE 10(11): e0142850. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0142850.

  9. Perfecto, I. and J. Vandermeer. 2015. Coffee Agroecology, Earthscan, London.

  10. Vandermeer, J., P. Rohani and I. Perfecto. 2015. Local dynamics of the coffee rust disease and the potential effect
     of shade. arXiv:1510.05849 http://arxiv.org/licenses/nonexclusive-distrib/1.0/

  11. Marin*, L.E., Jackson, D. and I. Perfecto. 2015. Spatially explicit positive associations between ants and spiders and its potential mechanisms. Oikos 124: 1078-1088.

  12. Iverson*, A., L. Marin*, K. Ennis*, D. Gonthier*, J. Remfert*, J. O’Connor-Barrie*, B. Cardinale and I. Perfecto. 2014. Do polycultures premote win-wins or tradeoffs in agricultural ecosystem services?: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Ecology 51: 1593-1602.

  13. Perfecto, I., J. Vandermeer and S. M. Philpott. 2014. Complex ecological interactions in the coffee agroecosystem. Annual Reviews of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 45: 137-158.

  14. Vandermeer, J. and I. Perfecto. 2014. Paradigms lost: tropical conservation under late capitalism. In: Hecht, S., K. Morrison and C. Padoch (eds.), Social Life of Forests, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL.

  15. Gonthier,* D. J., K. K. Ennis*, S. Farinas*, H.Y. Hsieh*, A. L. Iverson*, P. Batary, J. Rodolphi, T. Tscharntke, B. J. Cardinale and I. Perfecto. 2014. Biodiversity conservation in agriculture requires a multi-scale approach. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 281 (1791): 20141358

  16. Hajian-Forooshani, Z.*, D. J. Gonthier*, L. Marin*, A. L. Iverson* and I. Perfecto. 2014. Changes in species diversity of arboreal spiders in Mexican coffee agroecosystems: Untangling the web of local and landscape influences driving diversity. PeerJ 2:e623; DOI 10.7717/peerj.623

  17. Jackson*, D., D. Allen*, I. Perfecto and J. Vandermeer. 2014. Self-organization of background habitat determines the nature of population spatial structure. Oikos 123 (6): 751-761.

  18. Kuesel*, R., D. J. Gonthier*, M. Cruz*, C. Vaiyda*, Iverson*, A. L. and I. Perfecto. 2014. Local management and landscape use intensity associated with a coffee leaf-chewing beetle. Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems 38(5): 532-440.

  19. Liere, H.*, I. Perfecto and J. Vandermeer. 2014. Stage-dependent response to habitat heterogeneity: consequences for a predatory insect population in a coffee agroecosystem. Ecology and Evolution 4 (16): 3201-3209

  20. Jackson*, D., J. Vandermeer, I. Perfecto and S. Philpott. 2014. Population responses to environmental change in a tropical ant: the interaction of spatial and temporal dynamics. PLoS ONE 9(5): e97809. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0097809.

  21. Vandermeer, J., D. Jackson* and I. Perfecto. 2014. Qualitative dynamics of the coffee rust epidemic: educating the intuition with theoretical ecology. BioScience 2014; doi: 10.1093/biosci/bit034.


3541 Dana

(734) 764-8601

3531 Dana (laboratory)