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Prospects for conserving biodiversity in Amazonian extractive reserves


  • Editor, M. Rejmanek

Susan M. Moegenburg. Present Address: Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center; National Zoological Park; Washington, DC 20008, U.S.A. E-mail:


Non-timber forest product (NTFP) extraction is a popular alternative to timber extraction that figures prominently in efforts to utilize tropical forests sustainably. But the ability to conserve biodiversity through NTFP management, particularly in extractive reserves in Amazonia, has remained untested. We found that intensive management of Euterpe oleracea (Palmae) fruit, one of the most important extractive products in the Amazon, has substantial impacts on biodiversity, whereas moderate management does not. We mimicked traditional levels of fruit harvest in a replicated experiment over one fruiting season. High-intensity harvest (75% of fruits removed) reduced avian frugivore species diversity by 22%. Low-intensity harvest (40% of fruits removed), however, had no effect on diversity. On a larger scale, we found that forests with enriched densities of E. oleracea supported more fruit-eating birds but fewer non fruit-eating birds than non-enriched forests. Taken together, these results suggest that intensive NTFP management to meet market demands may trigger substantial ecological impacts, at least at the level of our study. E. oleracea harvest should be limited where conservation of biodiversity is a goal.