Impacts of logging and conversion of rainforest to oil palm on the functional diversity of birds in Sundaland

Authors

  • Felicity A. Edwards,

    1. Institute of Integrative and Comparative Biology, Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
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  • David P. Edwards,

    Corresponding author
    1. Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA
    2. Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science (TESS) and School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Cairns, QL, Australia
    • Institute of Integrative and Comparative Biology, Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
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  • Keith C. Hamer,

    1. Institute of Integrative and Comparative Biology, Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
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  • Richard G. Davies

    1. School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
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Corresponding author.

Email: dave.edwards@jcu.edu.au

Abstract

Commercial selective logging and the conversion of primary and degraded forests to agriculture are the biggest threats to tropical biodiversity. Our understanding of the impacts of these disturbances and the resulting local extinctions on the functional roles performed by the remaining species is limited. We address this issue by examining functional diversity (FD), which quantifies a range of traits that affect a species' ecological role in a community as a single continuous metric. We calculated FD for birds across a gradient of disturbance from primary forest through intensively logged forest to oil palm plantations on previously forested land in Borneo, Southeast Asia, a hotspot of imperilled biodiversity. Logged rainforest retained similar levels of FD to unlogged rainforest, even after two logging rotations, but the conversion of logged forest to oil palm resulted in dramatic reductions in FD. The few remaining species in oil palm filled a disproportionately wide range of functional roles but showed very little clustering in terms of functional traits, suggesting that any further extinctions from oil palm would reduce FD even further. Determining the extent to which the changes we recorded were due to under-utilization of resources within oil palm or a reduction in the resources present is an important next step. Nonetheless our study improves our understanding of the stability and resilience of functional diversity in these ecosystems and of the implications of land-use changes for ecosystem functioning.

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