The extent of Dipterocarp rainforests on the emergent Sundaland landmass in Southeast Asia during Quaternary glaciations remains a key question. A better understanding of the biogeographic history of Sundaland could help explain current patterns of biodiversity and support the development of effective forest conservation strategies. Dipterocarpaceae trees dominate the rainforests of Sundaland, and their distributions serve as a proxy for rainforest extent. We used species distribution models (SDMs) of 317 Dipterocarp species to estimate the geographic extent of appropriate climatic conditions for rainforest on Sundaland at the last glacial maximum (LGM). The SDMs suggest that the climate of central Sundaland at the LGM was suitable to sustain Dipterocarp rainforest, and that the presence of a previously suggested transequatorial savannah corridor at that time is unlikely. Our findings are supported by palynologic evidence, dynamic vegetation models, extant mammal and termite communities, vascular plant fatty acid stable isotopic compositions, and stable carbon isotopic compositions of cave guano profiles. Although Dipterocarp species richness was generally lower at the LGM, areas of high species richness were mostly found off the current islands and on the emergent Sunda Shelf, indicating substantial species migration and mixing during the transitions between the Quaternary glacial maxima and warm periods such as the present.
Due to widespread distribution of dwarf bamboo, Chimonobambusa utilis, in mountain environment, the effects of elevation (low and high) and canopy condition (forest understorey and forest edge) on the clonal morphology and leaf fluctuating asymmetry were investigated in an evergreen broadleaves forest of Jinfo Mountain Nature Reserve. Elevation and canopy condition were significant for all morphological traits of C. utilis (except for effect of elevation on node number under branch). Traits of clonal morphology such as height, basal diameter, height under branch tended to be higher in forest understorey and in high elevation. Forest understorey in high elevation was favour of shooting number. Interaction of elevation and canopy conditions had a significant effect on growth of node. Single leaf area (SLA) and all indices of fluctuating asymmetry were significantly higher in low elevation than that in high elevation of forest understorey. Thus, elevation and canopy condition formed environmental stress that lead to the adaptation of morphological traits and leaf fluctuating asymmetry of C. utilis populations to mountain forest habitats.
Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve (MMFR) in Peninsular Malaysia is under systematic management since 1902 and still considered as the best managed mangrove forest in the world. The present study on silvimetrics assessed the ongoing MMFR forest management, which includes a first thinning after 15 years, a second thinning after 20 years and clear-felling of 30-year old forest blocks, for its efficiency and productivity in comparison to natural mangroves. The estimated tree structural parameters (e.g. density, frequency) from three different-aged mangrove blocks of fifteen (MF15), twenty (MF20), and thirty (MF30) years old indicated that Bruguiera and Excoecaria spp. did not constitute a significant proportion of the vegetation (<5%), and hence the results focused majorly on Rhizophora apiculata. The density of R. apiculata at MF15, MF20 and MF30 was 4,331, 2,753 and 1,767 stems ha(-1), respectively. In relation to ongoing practices of the artificial thinnings at MMFR, the present study suggests that the first thinning could be made earlier to limit the loss of exploitable wood due to natural thinning. In fact, the initial density at MF15 was expected to drop down from 6,726 to 1,858 trees ha(-1) before the first thinning. Therefore the trees likely to qualify for natural thinning, though having a smaller stem diameter, should be exploited for domestic/commercial purposes at an earlier stage. The clear-felling block (MF30) with a maximum stem diameter of 30 cm was estimated to yield 372 t ha(-1) of the above-ground biomass and suggests that the mangrove management based on a 30-year rotation is appropriate for the MMFR. Since Matang is the only iconic site that practicing sustainable wood production, it could be an exemplary to other mangrove locations for their improved management.
Forest canopies are dynamic interfaces between organisms and atmosphere, providing buffered microclimates and complex microhabitats. Canopies form vertically stratified ecosystems interconnected with other strata. Some forest biodiversity patterns and food webs have been documented and measurements of ecophysiology and biogeochemical cycling have allowed analyses of large-scale transfer of CO2, water, and trace gases between forests and the atmosphere. However, many knowledge gaps remain. With global research networks and databases, and new technologies and infrastructure, we envisage rapid advances in our understanding of the mechanisms that drive the spatial and temporal dynamics of forests and their canopies. Such understanding is vital for the successful management and conservation of global forests and the ecosystem services they provide to the world.
Topography is a key driver of tropical forest structure and composition, as it constrains local nutrient and hydraulic conditions within which trees grow. Yet, we do not fully understand how changes in forest physiognomy driven by topography impact other emergent properties of forests, such as their aboveground carbon density (ACD). Working in Borneo - at a site where 70-m-tall forests in alluvial valleys rapidly transition to stunted heath forests on nutrient-depleted dip slopes - we combined field data with airborne laser scanning and hyperspectral imaging to characterise how topography shapes the vertical structure, wood density, diversity and ACD of nearly 15 km2 of old-growth forest. We found that subtle differences in elevation - which control soil chemistry and hydrology - profoundly influenced the structure, composition and diversity of the canopy. Capturing these processes was critical to explaining landscape-scale heterogeneity in ACD, highlighting how emerging remote sensing technologies can provide new insights into long-standing ecological questions.
We present an assessment of the diversity of Malaysian bats at two contrasting habitat types (secondary forest and oil palm plantation) along the Kerian River surveyed between February 2009 and February 2010. Three hundred and twenty nine individual bats from 13 species representing 4 families were recorded using 10 mist nets. The most commonly caught bat in the secondary forest was Cynopterus brachyotis (n=75), followed by Macroglossus minimus (n=10). Meanwhile, in the oil palm plantation, the most commonly caught bat was Cynopterus brachyotis (n=109), followed by Cynopterus horsfieldi (n=76). The netting efforts were equal for both habitat types. The total sampling nights for each habitat type was 5460. The oil palm plantation had a greater bat abundance that was significantly different from that of the secondary forest, with 209 and 120 individuals, respectively (Mann-Whitney U-test = 31.5, p<0.05). Our results suggest that there is no significant difference in species richness between the two sites. However, the invasion by disturbance-associated species of the secondary forest is indicative of negative effects on the forest and animal diversity in this area. Forest managers should consider multiple measures of forest fragmentation sensitivity before making any forest management decisions.
Vatica najibiana Ummul-Nazrah (Dipterocarpaceae), from the Relai Forest Reserve, Gua Musang, Kelantan and Gua Tanggang, Merapoh, Pahang, is described and illustrated. This species is Endangered and known from small populations restricted to two isolated karst limestone hills. The type locality, Relai Forest Reserve limestone, is currently under threat from encroaching oil palm plantations and ongoing logging, which, if it continues, will threaten the Kelantan population with extinction. The morphology of V. najibiana and the similar V. odorata subsp. odorata and V. harmandiana is compared.
Thismia kelabitiana, a new unique species from the Sarawak state of Malaysia in the island of Borneo is described and illustrated. This new species is not similar to any species of Thismia described so far especially by having a unique form of mitre and outer perianth lobes deeply divided into 8-10 acute lobes and forming striking fringe around perianth tube opening. The species appears to be critically endangered due to ongoing logging activities in the region. It may potentially become a surrogate species for lower montane forests of the region and thus help protect them against further destruction.
The original version of this Article contained an error in the third sentence of the abstract and incorrectly read "Here, using long-term plot monitoring records of up to half a century, we find that intact forests in Borneo gained 0.43 Mg C ha-1 year-1 (95% CI 0.14-0.72, mean period 1988-2010) above-ground live biomass", rather than the correct "Here, using long-term plot monitoring records of up to half a century, we find that intact forests in Borneo gained 0.43 Mg C ha-1 year-1 (95% CI 0.14-0.72, mean period 1988-2010) in above-ground live biomass carbon". This has now been corrected in both the PDF and HTML versions of the Article.
Relationship between understory plant diversity and anthropogenic disturbances in urban forests of Wuhan City, Central China, was analyzed by diversity analysis and detrended canonical correspondence analysis (DCCA). The results showed that: understory species diversity was higher in suburban area than in urban area. From forest center to edge, species diversity of Luojia hill, Shizi hill and Maan hill forests gradually increased, however, that of Hong hill gradually decreased. Anthropogenic disturbances gradient resulted from visitors flowrate, shrub coverage, aspect and adjacent land types had significant effects on species diversity of shrub and herb layers in urban forests. High anthropogenic disturbances might increase similar non-native herb species in urban area and low disturbances might promote co-existence of wood species in suburban area. Further analysis on types of anthropogenic disturbances and plant functional groups in urban-suburban gradient should be taken into a consideration.
The purpose of the investigation was to study the early spring plant diversity distributed in different vegetation types and their life forms, in relation to different altitudes. The investigation was carried out in accordance with itinerary method beginning from the shoreline up to the mountain. The results showed that 100% of the totally collected plants from the desert vegetation were therophytes; 100% from steppe vegetation were geophytes; 50 from forest were geophytes and the other 50% were hemicryptophytes. It is concluded that the life forms of early spring plants change depending on the altitude corresponding to changes in the air temperature as well as climatic and edaphic factors.
Sap flow pattern of Tectona grandis planted at lowland forest assessed. This study aimed to determine the sap movement
of two different diameter sizes T. grandis. Two sizes selected were 16 and 38 cm in diameter at breast height (dbh). Sap
flow meter (SFM) used to assess the sap velocity rates at the interval of 30 min within 24 h for 15 days. Diurnal sap flow
of T. grandis shows that mean velocity is high during day time compared night time. Small diameter has high sap flow
compared to that of bigger diameter. A flow rates was high at the inner layer and less at outer layer for smaller tree. The
variation was vice versa when the tree was getting bigger. Variations in sap flow of T. grandis characterized by several
environmental factors. It was found that size contribute in the differed sap flow of T. grandis.
Tropical forests are highly diverse systems involving extraordinary numbers of interactions between species, with each species responding in a different way to the abiotic environment. Understanding how these systems function and predicting how they respond to anthropogenic global change is extremely challenging. We argue for the necessity of 'whole-ecosystem' experimental manipulations, in which the entire ecosystem is targeted, either to reveal the functioning of the system in its natural state or to understand responses to anthropogenic impacts. We survey the current range of whole-ecosystem manipulations, which include those targeting weather and climate, nutrients, biotic interactions, human impacts, and habitat restoration. Finally we describe the unique challenges and opportunities presented by such projects and suggest directions for future experiments.
With the rapid growth of agricultural areas globally, forest birds increasingly encounter fragmented landscapes in which forest patches are surrounded by an agricultural plantation matrix, yet how birds respond behaviourally to this fragmentation is poorly understood. Information on microhabitat requirements of birds is scarce, but nevertheless essential to predicting adaptation of bird species to the patchy landscapes. We investigated foraging patterns of three tropical insectivorous birds, Green Iora Aegithina viridissima, Pin-striped Tit-Babbler Macronus gularis and Chestnut-winged Babbler Cyanoderma erythropterum, to determine whether they vary in foraging methods in different forest patches. Our study area encompassed old-logged lowland forest; one continuous forest and three forest patches. Observations were performed for 15 days every month for a period of 13 months. Information on foraging height, substrate, attack manoeuvres, and foliage density was collected independently for each foraging bird individual. All three species used different foraging substrates and attack manoeuvres in different habitat types. The Green Iora frequently used lower strata when foraging in forest patches as opposed to continuous forest, while the Pin-striped Tit-Babbler tended to forage in more dense vegetation in patches. Only Chestnut-winged Babbler displayed complete foraging plasticity across all study parameters. Different habitat features (e.g., edges, microclimates) between continuous forest and forest patches significantly influenced the foraging strategies of the study species. These changes in foraging strategies suggest that some Malaysian forest birds (e.g. generalist species) can respond behaviourally to fragmentation and habitat loss. Although continuous forest has critically important characteristics that need to be conserved, remnant forest patches are also important as ecological movement corridors and foraging grounds for birds.
Selective logging that is commonly conducted in tropical forests may change tree species diversity. In rarely disturbed tropical forests, locally rare species exhibit higher survival rates. If this non-random process occurs in a logged forest, the forest will rapidly recover its tree species diversity. Here we determined whether a forest in the Pasoh Forest Reserve, Malaysia, which was selectively logged 40 years ago, recovered its original species diversity (species richness and composition). To explore this, we compared the dynamics of secies diversity between unlogged forest plot (18.6 ha) and logged forest plot (5.4 ha). We found that 40 years are not sufficient to recover species diversity after logging. Unlike unlogged forests, tree deaths and recruitments did not contribute to increased diversity in the selectively logged forests. Our results predict that selectively logged forests require a longer time at least than our observing period (40 years) to regain their diversity.
Tropical forests are being rapidly altered by logging, and cleared for agriculture. Understanding the effects of these land use changes on soil fungi, which play vital roles in the soil ecosystem functioning and services, is a major conservation frontier. Using 454-pyrosequencing of the ITS1 region of extracted soil DNA, we compared communities of soil fungi between unlogged, once-logged, and twice-logged rainforest, and areas cleared for oil palm, in Sabah, Malaysia. Overall fungal community composition differed significantly between forest and oil palm plantation. The OTU richness and Chao 1 were higher in forest, compared to oil palm plantation. As a proportion of total reads, Basidiomycota were more abundant in forest soil, compared to oil palm plantation soil. The turnover of fungal OTUs across space, true β-diversity, was also higher in forest than oil palm plantation. Ectomycorrhizal (EcM) fungal abundance was significantly different between land uses, with highest relative abundance (out of total fungal reads) observed in unlogged forest soil, lower abundance in logged forest, and lowest in oil palm. In their entirety, these results indicate a pervasive effect of conversion to oil palm on fungal community structure. Such wholesale changes in fungal communities might impact the long-term sustainability of oil palm agriculture. Logging also has more subtle long term effects, on relative abundance of EcM fungi, which might affect tree recruitment and nutrient cycling. However, in general the logged forest retains most of the diversity and community composition of unlogged forest.
The native forests of Borneo have been impacted by selective logging, fire, and conversion to plantations at unprecedented scales since industrial-scale extractive industries began in the early 1970s. There is no island-wide documentation of forest clearance or logging since the 1970s. This creates an information gap for conservation planning, especially with regard to selectively logged forests that maintain high conservation potential. Analysing LANDSAT images, we estimate that 75.7% (558,060 km2) of Borneo's area (737,188 km2) was forested around 1973. Based upon a forest cover map for 2010 derived using ALOS-PALSAR and visually reviewing LANDSAT images, we estimate that the 1973 forest area had declined by 168,493 km2 (30.2%) in 2010. The highest losses were recorded in Sabah and Kalimantan with 39.5% and 30.7% of their total forest area in 1973 becoming non-forest in 2010, and the lowest in Brunei and Sarawak (8.4%, and 23.1%). We estimate that the combined area planted in industrial oil palm and timber plantations in 2010 was 75,480 km2, representing 10% of Borneo. We mapped 271,819 km of primary logging roads that were created between 1973 and 2010. The greatest density of logging roads was found in Sarawak, at 0.89 km km-2, and the lowest density in Brunei, at 0.18 km km-2. Analyzing MODIS-based tree cover maps, we estimate that logging operated within 700 m of primary logging roads. Using this distance, we estimate that 266,257 km2 of 1973 forest cover has been logged. With 389,566 km2 (52.8%) of the island remaining forested, of which 209,649 km2 remains intact. There is still hope for biodiversity conservation in Borneo. Protecting logged forests from fire and conversion to plantations is an urgent priority for reducing rates of deforestation in Borneo.
Tropical agriculture is expanding rapidly at the expense of forest, driving a global extinction crisis. How to create agricultural landscapes that minimise the clearance of forest and maximise sustainability is thus a key issue. One possibility is protecting natural forest within or adjacent to crop monocultures to harness important ecosystem services provided by biodiversity spill-over that may facilitate production. Yet this contrasts with the conflicting potential that the retention of forest exports dis-services, such as agricultural pests. We focus on oil palm and obtained yields from 499 plantation parcels spanning a total of ≈23,000 ha of oil palm plantation in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. We investigate the relationship between the extent and proximity of both contiguous and fragmented dipterocarp forest cover and oil palm yield, controlling for variation in oil palm age and for environmental heterogeneity by incorporating proximity to non-native forestry plantations, other oil palm plantations, and large rivers, elevation and soil type in our models. The extent of forest cover and proximity to dipterocarp forest were not significant predictors of oil palm yield. Similarly, proximity to large rivers and other oil palm plantations, as well as soil type had no significant effect. Instead, lower elevation and closer proximity to forestry plantations had significant positive impacts on oil palm yield. These findings suggest that if dipterocarp forests are exporting ecosystem service benefits or ecosystem dis-services, that the net effect on yield is neutral. There is thus no evidence to support arguments that forest should be retained within or adjacent to oil palm monocultures for the provision of ecosystem services that benefit yield. We urge for more nuanced assessments of the impacts of forest and biodiversity on yields in crop monocultures to better understand their role in sustainable agriculture.
Selective logging is one of the major drivers of tropical forest degradation, causing important shifts in species composition. Whether such changes modify interactions between species and the networks in which they are embedded remain fundamental questions to assess the 'health' and ecosystem functionality of logged forests. We focus on interactions between lianas and their tree hosts within primary and selectively logged forests in the biodiversity hotspot of Malaysian Borneo. We found that lianas were more abundant, had higher species richness, and different species compositions in logged than in primary forests. Logged forests showed heavier liana loads disparately affecting slow-growing tree species, which could exacerbate the loss of timber value and carbon storage already associated with logging. Moreover, simulation scenarios of host tree local species loss indicated that logging might decrease the robustness of liana-tree interaction networks if heavily infested trees (i.e. the most connected ones) were more likely to disappear. This effect is partially mitigated in the short term by the colonization of host trees by a greater diversity of liana species within logged forests, yet this might not compensate for the loss of preferred tree hosts in the long term. As a consequence, species interaction networks may show a lagged response to disturbance, which may trigger sudden collapses in species richness and ecosystem function in response to additional disturbances, representing a new type of 'extinction debt'.
Remote sensing is revolutionizing the way we study forests, and recent technological advances mean we are now able - for the first time - to identify and measure the crown dimensions of individual trees from airborne imagery. Yet to make full use of these data for quantifying forest carbon stocks and dynamics, a new generation of allometric tools which have tree height and crown size at their centre are needed. Here, we compile a global database of 108753 trees for which stem diameter, height and crown diameter have all been measured, including 2395 trees harvested to measure aboveground biomass. Using this database, we develop general allometric models for estimating both the diameter and aboveground biomass of trees from attributes which can be remotely sensed - specifically height and crown diameter. We show that tree height and crown diameter jointly quantify the aboveground biomass of individual trees and find that a single equation predicts stem diameter from these two variables across the world's forests. These new allometric models provide an intuitive way of integrating remote sensing imagery into large-scale forest monitoring programmes and will be of key importance for parameterizing the next generation of dynamic vegetation models.