Tropical forest conversion to rubber plantation affects soil micro- & mesofaunal community & diversity.
ABSTRACT: Tropical rainforests play important roles in carbon sequestration and are hot spots for biodiversity. Tropical forests are being replaced by rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) plantations, causing widespread concern of a crash in biodiversity. Such changes in aboveground vegetation might have stronger impacts on belowground biodiversity. We studied tropical rainforest fragments and derived rubber plantations at a network of sites in Xishuangbanna, China, hypothesizing a major decrease in diversity with conversion to plantations. We used metabarcoding of the 18S rRNA gene and recovered 2313 OTUs, with a total of 449 OTUs shared between the two land-use types. The most abundant phyla detected were Annelida (66.4% reads) followed by arthropods (15.5% reads) and nematodes (8.9% reads). Of these, only annelids were significantly more abundant in rubber plantation. Taken together, α- and β-diversity were significantly higher in forest than rubber plantation. Soil pH and spatial distance explained a significant portion of the variability in phylogenetic community structure for both land-use types. Community assembly was primarily influenced by stochastic processes. Overall it appears that forest replacement by rubber plantation results in an overall loss and extensive replacement of soil micro- and mesofaunal biodiversity, which should be regarded as an additional aspect of the impact of forest conversion.
Project description:Tropical forests are being rapidly altered by logging and cleared for agriculture. Understanding the effects of these land use changes on soil bacteria, which constitute a large proportion of total biodiversity and perform important ecosystem functions, is a major conservation frontier. Here we studied the effects of logging history and forest conversion to oil palm plantations in Sabah, Borneo, on the soil bacterial community. We used paired-end Illumina sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene, V3 region, to compare the bacterial communities in primary, once-logged, and twice-logged forest and land converted to oil palm plantations. Bacteria were grouped into operational taxonomic units (OTUs) at the 97% similarity level, and OTU richness and local-scale ?-diversity showed no difference between the various forest types and oil palm plantations. Focusing on the turnover of bacteria across space, true ?-diversity was higher in oil palm plantation soil than in forest soil, whereas community dissimilarity-based metrics of ?-diversity were only marginally different between habitats, suggesting that at large scales, oil palm plantation soil could have higher overall ?-diversity than forest soil, driven by a slightly more heterogeneous community across space. Clearance of primary and logged forest for oil palm plantations did, however, significantly impact the composition of soil bacterial communities, reflecting in part the loss of some forest bacteria, whereas primary and logged forests did not differ in composition. Overall, our results suggest that the soil bacteria of tropical forest are to some extent resilient or resistant to logging but that the impacts of forest conversion to oil palm plantations are more severe.
Project description:Forest-to-rubber plantation conversion is an important land-use change in the tropical region, for which the impacts on soil carbon stocks have hardly been studied. In montane mainland southeast Asia, monoculture rubber plantations cover 1.5 million ha and the conversion from secondary forests to rubber plantations is predicted to cause a fourfold expansion by 2050. Our study, conducted in southern Yunnan province, China, aimed to quantify the changes in soil carbon stocks following the conversion from secondary forests to rubber plantations. We sampled 11 rubber plantations ranging in age from 5 to 46 years and seven secondary forest plots using a space-for-time substitution approach. We found that forest-to-rubber plantation conversion resulted in losses of soil carbon stocks by an average of 37.4±4.7 (SE) Mg C ha(-1) in the entire 1.2-m depth over a time period of 46 years, which was equal to 19.3±2.7% of the initial soil carbon stocks in the secondary forests. This decline in soil carbon stocks was much larger than differences between published aboveground carbon stocks of rubber plantations and secondary forests, which range from a loss of 18 Mg C ha(-1) to an increase of 8 Mg C ha(-1). In the topsoil, carbon stocks declined exponentially with years since deforestation and reached a steady state at around 20 years. Although the IPCC tier 1 method assumes that soil carbon changes from forest-to-rubber plantation conversions are zero, our findings show that they need to be included to avoid errors in estimating overall ecosystem carbon fluxes.
Project description:Metabarcoding potentially offers a rapid and cheap method of monitoring biodiversity, but real-world applications are few. We investigated its utility in studying patterns of litter arthropod diversity and composition in the tropics. We collected litter arthropods from 35 matched forest-plantation sites across Xishuangbanna, southwestern China. A new primer combination and the MiSeq platform were used to amplify and sequence a wide variety of litter arthropods using simulated and real-world communities. Quality filtered reads were clustered into 3,624 MOTUs at ?97% similarity and the taxonomy of each MOTU was predicted. We compared diversity and compositional differences between forests and plantations (rubber and tea) for all MOTUs and for eight arthropod groups. We obtained ~100% detection rate after in silico sequencing six mock communities with known arthropod composition. Ordination showed that rubber, tea and forest communities formed distinct clusters. ?-diversity declined significantly between forests and adjacent plantations for more arthropod groups in rubber than tea, and diversity of order Orthoptera increased significantly in tea. Turnover was higher in forests than plantations, but patterns differed among groups. Metabarcoding is useful for quantifying diversity patterns of arthropods under different land-uses and the MiSeq platform is effective for arthropod metabarcoding in the tropics.
Project description:Protection of the world's remaining forests and biodiversity is a matter of global concern. Yunnan, China is home to China's only mainland tropical rainforests, and 20% of China's total biodiversity. Despite restoration measures and establishment of new protected areas, this region is still experiencing biodiversity loss due to inadequate management and monitoring. We evaluate restoration success of China's tropical forests in Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve (XSBN-NNR), Yunnan, China using dung beetles as an indicator taxon. We sampled across a land-use gradient of human alteration: protected forest, restored forest, community owned forest, and rubber plantation. We collected 3,748 dung beetles from 21 species over a 3 month period. Multivariate analyses revealed unique assemblages in each land-use category, but with restored forest most similar to protected areas, suggesting restoration success in this region. Community forests were more diverse than plantations, suggesting that community forests may be a valuable and practical conservation tool in this region. Most species were generalists, although some had dietary and habitat preferences. Furthermore, dietary niche breadths were, on average, higher in disturbed areas, suggesting that disturbance may result in dietary changes. We show that restoration of tropical forests appears to be successful for a key ecological and biological indicator group- dung beetles. Furthermore, community-owned forests appear to be valuable and practical method of maintaining ecosystem health and biodiversity in the region. Future management in this region would likely benefit from encouragement to maintain community-owned forests, economic incentives for restoring farmland to forest, and increased environmental monitoring across the land-use gradient.
Project description:Tropical lowland rainforests are increasingly threatened by the expansion of agriculture and the extraction of natural resources. In Jambi Province, Indonesia, the interdisciplinary EFForTS project focuses on the ecological and socio-economic dimensions of rainforest conversion to jungle rubber agroforests and monoculture plantations of rubber and oil palm. Our data confirm that rainforest transformation and land use intensification lead to substantial losses in biodiversity and related ecosystem functions, such as decreased above- and below-ground carbon stocks. Owing to rapid step-wise transformation from forests to agroforests to monoculture plantations and renewal of each plantation type every few decades, the converted land use systems are continuously dynamic, thus hampering the adaptation of animal and plant communities. On the other hand, agricultural rainforest transformation systems provide increased income and access to education, especially for migrant smallholders. Jungle rubber and rubber monocultures are associated with higher financial land productivity but lower financial labour productivity compared to oil palm, which influences crop choice: smallholders that are labour-scarce would prefer oil palm while land-scarce smallholders would prefer rubber. Collecting long-term data in an interdisciplinary context enables us to provide decision-makers and stakeholders with scientific insights to facilitate the reconciliation between economic interests and ecological sustainability in tropical agricultural landscapes.
Project description:Rapid land-use change in the tropics causes dramatic losses in biodiversity and associated functions. In Sumatra, Indonesia, lowland rainforest has mainly been transformed by smallholders into oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) and rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) monocultures, interspersed with jungle rubber (rubber agroforests) and a few forest remnants. In two regions of the Jambi province, we conducted point counts in 32 plots of four different land-use types (lowland rainforest, jungle rubber, rubber plantation and oil palm plantation) as well as in 16 nearby homegardens, representing a small-scale, traditional agricultural system. We analysed total bird abundance and bird abundance in feeding guilds, as well as species richness per point count visit, per plot, and per land-use system, to unveil the conservation importance and functional responses of birds in the different land-use types. In total, we identified 71 species from 24 families. Across the different land-use types, abundance did not significantly differ, but both species richness per visit and per plot were reduced in plantations. Feeding guild abundances between land-use types were variable, but homegardens were dominated by omnivores and granivores, and frugivorous birds were absent from monoculture rubber and oil palm. Jungle rubber played an important role in harbouring forest bird species and frugivores. Homegardens turned out to be of minor importance for conserving birds due to their low sizes, although collectively, they are used by many bird species. Changes in functional composition with land-use conversion may affect important ecosystem functions such as biological pest control, pollination, and seed dispersal. In conclusion, maintaining forest cover, including degraded forest and jungle rubber, is of utmost importance to the conservation of functional and taxonomic bird diversity.
Project description:Land-use change is one of the greatest threats to biodiversity, especially in the tropics where secondary and plantation forests are expanding while primary forest is declining. Understanding how well these disturbed habitats maintain biodiversity is therefore important-specifically how the maturity of secondary forest and the management intensity of plantation forest affect levels of biodiversity. Previous studies have shown that the biotas of different continents respond differently to land use. Any continental differences in the response could be due to differences in land-use intensity and maturity of secondary vegetation or to differences among species in their sensitivity to disturbances. We tested these hypotheses using an extensive dataset collated from published biodiversity comparisons within four tropical regions-Asia, Africa, Central America and South America-and a wide range of animal and plant taxa. We analysed responses to land use of several aspects of biodiversity-species richness, species composition and endemicity-allowing a more detailed comparison than in previous syntheses. Within each continent, assemblages from secondary vegetation of all successional stages retained species richness comparable to those in primary vegetation, but community composition was distinct, especially in younger secondary vegetation. Plantation forests, particularly the most intensively managed, supported a smaller-and very distinct-set of species from sites in primary vegetation. Responses to land use did vary significantly among continents, with the biggest difference in richness between plantation and primary forests in Asia. Responses of individual taxonomic groups did not differ strongly among continents, giving little indication that species were inherently more sensitive in Asia than elsewhere. We show that oil palm plantations support particularly low species richness, indicating that continental differences in the response of biodiversity to land use are perhaps more likely explained by Asia's high prevalence of oil palm plantations.
Project description:Large areas of tropical rainforest are being converted to agricultural and plantation land uses, but little is known of biodiversity and ecological functioning under these replacement land uses. We investigated the effects of conversion of rainforest into jungle rubber, intensive rubber and oil palm plantations on testate amoebae, diverse and functionally important protists in litter and soil. Living testate amoebae species richness, density and biomass were all lower in replacement land uses than in rainforest, with the impact being more pronounced in litter than in soil. Similar abundances of species of high and low trophic level in rainforest suggest that trophic interactions are more balanced, with a high number of functionally redundant species, than in rubber and oil palm. In contrast, plantations had a low density of high trophic level species indicating losses of functions. This was particularly so in oil palm plantations. In addition, the relative density of species with siliceous shells was >50% lower in the litter layer of oil palm and rubber compared to rainforest and jungle rubber. This difference suggests that rainforest conversion changes biogenic silicon pools and increases silicon losses. Overall, the lower species richness, density and biomass in plantations than in rainforest, and the changes in the functional composition of the testate amoebae community, indicate detrimental effects of rainforest conversion on the structure and functioning of microbial food webs.
Project description:Understanding and managing pollination service is hindered by taxonomic impediments and paucity of data, particularly in the tropics. Herein we apply integrative species delineation and taxonomy to test impacts of land use on the diversity of bee communities within Xishuangbanna (Yunnan, south China), a highly biodiverse tropical region which has undergone extensive land conversion to rubber plantation. 128 Operational Taxonomic Units (OTU) were inferred by an iterative and integrative approach. Bee activity differed significantly across land use samples, although community composition corresponded more to level of vegetation density, when accounting for spatial structure. Species diversity was high in young rubber plantations, although composition overlapped with other species-rich habitats (natural forest edge and river banks), and older plantations (>8 years) showed very low diversity under all measures. Community structures were similar between the natural forest interior and edge, although analysis indicated contrasting drivers of diversity, with clustering in the interior and overdispersion in the forest edge. Further, phylogenetic diversity and derived indices were underestimated when reference data were omitted from analysis. The description of bee communities herein permits more informed choices in land management with respect to ensuring continuation of essential services by bees.
Project description:To gain the effects of N fertilizer applications on N2O emissions and local climate change in fertilized rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) plantations in the tropics, we measured N2O fluxes from fertilized (75?kg N ha(-1) yr(-1)) and unfertilized rubber plantations at Xishuangbanna in southwest China over a 2-year period. The N2O emissions from the fertilized and unfertilized plots were 4.0 and 2.5?kg N ha(-1) yr(-1), respectively, and the N2O emission factor was 1.96%. Soil moisture, soil temperature, and the area weighted mean ammoniacal nitrogen (NH4(+)-N) content controlled the variations in N2O flux from the fertilized and unfertilized rubber plantations. NH4(+)-N did not influence temporal changes in N2O emissions from the trench, slope, or terrace plots, but controlled spatial variations in N2O emissions among the treatments. On a unit area basis, the 100-year carbon dioxide equivalence of the fertilized rubber plantation N2O offsets 5.8% and 31.5% of carbon sink of the rubber plantation and local tropical rainforest, respectively. When entire land area in Xishuangbanna is considered, N2O emissions from fertilized rubber plantations offset 17.1% of the tropical rainforest's carbon sink. The results show that if tropical rainforests are converted to fertilized rubber plantations, regional N2O emissions may enhance local climate warming.