The diversity of beetle assemblages in different habitat types (primary forest, logged forest, acacia plantation and oil palm plantation) in Sabah, Malaysia was investigated using three different methods based on habitat levels (Winkler sampling, flight-interception-trapping and mist-blowing). The overall diversity was extremely high, with 1711 species recorded from only 8028 individuals and 81 families (115 family and subfamily groups). Different degrees of environmental changes had varying effects on the beetle species richness and abundance, with oil palm plantation assemblage being most severely affected, followed by acacia plantation and then logged forest. A few species became numerically dominant in the oil palm plantation. In terms of beetle species composition, the acacia fauna showed much similarity with the logged forest fauna, and the oil palm fauna was very different from the rest. The effects of environmental variables (number of plant species, sapling and tree densities, amount of leaf litter, ground cover, canopy cover, soil pH and compaction) on the beetle assemblage were also investigated. Leaf litter correlated with species richness, abundance and composition of subterranean beetles. Plant species richness, tree and sapling densities correlated with species richness, abundance and composition of understorey beetles while ground cover correlated only with the species richness and abundance of these beetles. Canopy cover correlated only with arboreal beetles. In trophic structure, predators represented more than 40% of the species and individuals. Environmental changes affected the trophic structure with proportionally more herbivores (abundance) but fewer predators (species richness and abundance) in the oil palm plantation. Biodiversity, conservation and practical aspects of pest management were also highlighted in this study.
The demand for timber products is facilitating the degradation and opening up of large areas of intact habitats rich in biodiversity. Logging creates an extensive network of access roads within the forest, yet these are commonly ignored or excluded when assessing impacts of logging on forest biodiversity. Here we determine the impact of these roads on the overall condition of selectively logged forests in Borneo, Southeast Asia. Focusing on dung beetles along > 40 km logging roads we determine: (i) the magnitude and extent of edge effects alongside logging roads; (ii) whether vegetation characteristics can explain patterns in dung beetle communities, and; (iii) how the inclusion of road edge forest impacts dung beetle assemblages within the overall logged landscape. We found that while vegetation structure was significantly affected up to 34 m from the road edge, impacts on dung beetle communities penetrated much further and were discernible up to 170 m into the forest interior. We found larger species and particularly tunnelling species responded more than other functional groups which were also influenced by micro-habitat variation. We provide important new insights into the long-term ecological impacts of tropical logging. We also support calls for improved logging road design both during and after timber extraction to conserve more effectively biodiversity in production forests, for instance, by considering the minimum volume of timber, per unit length of logging road needed to justify road construction. In particular, we suggest that governments and certification bodies need to highlight more clearly the biodiversity and environmental impacts of logging roads.
Freshwaters provide valuable habitat and important ecosystem services but are threatened worldwide by habitat loss and degradation. In Southeast Asia, rainforest streams are particularly threatened by logging and conversion to oil palm, but we lack information on the impacts of this on freshwater environmental conditions, and the relative importance of catchment versus riparian-scale disturbance. We studied 16 streams in Sabah, Borneo, including old-growth forest, logged forest, and oil palm sites. We assessed forest quality in riparian zones and across the whole catchment and compared it with stream environmental conditions including water quality, structural complexity, and organic inputs. We found that streams with the highest riparian forest quality were nearly 4 °C cooler, over 20 cm deeper, had over 40% less sand, greater canopy cover, more stored leaf litter, and wider channels than oil palm streams with the lowest riparian forest quality. Other variables were significantly related to catchment-scale forest quality, with streams in the highest quality forest catchments having 40% more bedrock and 20 times more dead wood, along with higher phosphorus, and lower nitrate-N levels compared to streams with the lowest catchment-scale forest quality. Although riparian buffer strips went some way to protecting waterways, they did not maintain fully forest-like stream conditions. In addition, logged forest streams still showed signs of disturbance 10-15 years after selective logging. Our results suggest that maintenance and restoration of buffer strips can help to protect healthy freshwater ecosystems but logging practices and catchment-scale forest management also need to be considered.
Invertebrates are dominant species in primary tropical rainforests, where their abundance and diversity contributes to the functioning and resilience of these globally important ecosystems. However, more than one-third of tropical forests have been logged, with dramatic impacts on rainforest biodiversity that may disrupt key ecosystem processes. We find that the contribution of invertebrates to three ecosystem processes operating at three trophic levels (litter decomposition, seed predation and removal, and invertebrate predation) is reduced by up to one-half following logging. These changes are associated with decreased abundance of key functional groups of termites, ants, beetles and earthworms, and an increase in the abundance of small mammals, amphibians and insectivorous birds in logged relative to primary forest. Our results suggest that ecosystem processes themselves have considerable resilience to logging, but the consistent decline of invertebrate functional importance is indicative of a human-induced shift in how these ecological processes operate in tropical rainforests.