Imaging spectroscopy reveals the effects of topography and logging on the leaf chemistry of tropical forest canopy trees.
ABSTRACT: Logging, pervasive across the lowland tropics, affects millions of hectares of forest, yet its influence on nutrient cycling remains poorly understood. One hypothesis is that logging influences phosphorus (P) cycling, because this scarce nutrient is removed in extracted timber and eroded soil, leading to shifts in ecosystem functioning and community composition. However, testing this is challenging because P varies within landscapes as a function of geology, topography and climate. Superimposed upon these trends are compositional changes in logged forests, with species with more acquisitive traits, characterized by higher foliar P concentrations, more dominant. It is difficult to resolve these patterns using traditional field approaches alone. Here, we use airborne light detection and ranging-guided hyperspectral imagery to map foliar nutrient (i.e. P, nitrogen [N]) concentrations, calibrated using field measured traits, over 400 km2 of northeastern Borneo, including a landscape-level disturbance gradient spanning old-growth to repeatedly logged forests. The maps reveal that canopy foliar P and N concentrations decrease with elevation. These relationships were not identified using traditional field measurements of leaf and soil nutrients. After controlling for topography, canopy foliar nutrient concentrations were lower in logged forest than in old-growth areas, reflecting decreased nutrient availability. However, foliar nutrient concentrations and specific leaf area were greatest in relatively short patches in logged areas, reflecting a shift in composition to pioneer species with acquisitive traits. N:P ratio increased in logged forest, suggesting reduced soil P availability through disturbance. Through the first landscape scale assessment of how functional leaf traits change in response to logging, we find that differences from old-growth forest become more pronounced as logged forests increase in stature over time, suggesting exacerbated phosphorus limitation as forests recover.
Project description:Selective logging, the targeted harvesting of timber trees in a single cutting cycle, is globally rising in extent and intensity. Short-term impacts of selective logging on tropical forests have been widely investigated, but long-term effects on temporal dynamics of forest structure and composition are largely unknown. Understanding these long-term dynamics will help determine whether tropical forests are resilient to selective logging and inform choices between competing demands of anthropogenic use versus conservation of tropical forests. Forest dynamics can be studied within the framework of succession theory, which predicts that temporal turnover rates should decline with time since disturbance. Here, we investigated the temporal dynamics of a tropical forest in Kibale National Park, Uganda over 45 years following selective logging. We estimated turnover rates in stems, species composition, and functional traits (wood density and diameter at breast height), using observations from four censuses in 1989, 1999, 2006, and 2013, of stems ? 10 cm diameter within 17 unlogged and 9 logged 200 × 10 m vegetation plots. We used null models to account for interdependencies among turnover rates in stems, species composition, and functional traits. We tested predictions that turnover rates should be higher and decrease with increasing time since the selective logging event in logged forest, but should be less temporally variable in unlogged forest. Overall, we found higher turnover rates in logged forest for all three attributes, but turnover rates did not decline through time in logged forest and was not less temporally variable in unlogged forest. These results indicate that successional models that assume recovery to pre-disturbance conditions are inadequate for predicting the effects of selective logging on the dynamics of the tropical forest in Kibale. Selective logging resulted in persistently higher turnover rates, which may compromise the carbon storage capacity of Kibale's forest. Selective logging effects may also interact with effects from other global trends, potentially causing major long-term shifts in the dynamics of tropical forests. Similar studies in tropical forests elsewhere will help determine the generality of these conclusions. Ultimately, the view that selective logging is a benign approach to the management of tropical forests should be reconsidered in the light of studies of the effects of this practice on long-term forest dynamics.
Project description:The responses of forest communities to interacting anthropogenic disturbances like climate change and logging are poorly known. Subtropical forests have been heavily modified by humans and their response to climate change is poorly understood. We investigated the 9-year change observed in a mixed conifer-hardwood Atlantic forest mosaic that included both mature and selectively logged forest patches in subtropical South America. We used demographic monitoring data within 10 1 ha plots that were subjected to distinct management histories (plots logged until 1955, until 1987, and unlogged) to test the hypothesis that climate change affected forest structure and dynamics differentially depending on past disturbances. We determined the functional group of all species based on life-history affinities as well as many functional traits like leaf size, specific leaf area, wood density, total height, stem slenderness, and seed size data for the 66 most abundant species. Analysis of climate data revealed that minimum temperatures and rainfall have been increasing in the last few decades of the 20th century. Floristic composition differed mainly with logging history categories, with only minor change over the nine annual census intervals. Aboveground biomass increased in all plots, but increases were higher in mature unlogged forests, which showed signs of forest growth associated with increased CO2, temperature, and rainfall/treefall gap disturbance at the same time. Logged forests showed arrested succession as indicated by reduced abundances of Pioneers and biomass-accumulators like Large Seeded Pioneers and Araucaria, as well as reduced functional diversity. Management actions aimed at creating regeneration opportunities for long-lived pioneers are needed to restore community functional diversity, and ecosystem services such as increased aboveground biomass accumulation. We conclude that the effects of climate drivers on the dynamics of Brazilian mixed Atlantic forests vary with land-use legacies, and can differ importantly from the ones prevalent in better known tropical forests.
Project description:Selective logging of tropical forests is increasing in extent and intensity. The duration over which impacts of selective logging persist, however, remains an unresolved question, particularly for African forests. Here, we investigate the extent to which a past selective logging event continues to leave its imprint on different components of an East African forest 45?years later. We inventoried 2358 stems ?10?cm in diameter in 26 plots (200?m?×?10?m) within a 5.2?ha area in Kibale National Park, Uganda, in logged and unlogged forest. In these surveys, we characterized the forest light environment, taxonomic composition, functional trait composition using three traits (wood density, maximum height and maximum diameter) and forest structure based on three measures (stem density, total basal area and total above-ground biomass). In comparison to unlogged forests, selectively logged forest plots in Kibale National Park on average had higher light levels, different structure characterized by lower stem density, lower total basal area and lower above-ground biomass, and a distinct taxonomic composition driven primarily by changes in the relative abundance of species. Conversely, selectively logged forest plots were like unlogged plots in functional composition, having similar community-weighted mean values for wood density, maximum height and maximum diameter. This similarity in functional composition irrespective of logging history may be due to functional recovery of logged forest or background changes in functional attributes of unlogged forest. Despite the passage of 45?years, the legacy of selective logging on the tree community in Kibale National Park is still evident, as indicated by distinct taxonomic and structural composition and reduced carbon storage in logged forest compared with unlogged forest. The effects of selective logging are exerted via influences on tree demography rather than functional trait composition.
Project description:Forests in Southeast Asia are rapidly being logged and converted to oil palm. These changes in land-use are known to affect species diversity but consequences for the functional diversity of species assemblages are poorly understood. Environmental filtering of species with similar traits could lead to disproportionate reductions in trait diversity in degraded habitats. Here, we focus on dung beetles, which play a key role in ecosystem processes such as nutrient recycling and seed dispersal. We use morphological and behavioural traits to calculate a variety of functional diversity measures across a gradient of disturbance from primary forest through intensively logged forest to oil palm. Logging caused significant shifts in community composition but had very little effect on functional diversity, even after a repeated timber harvest. These data provide evidence for functional redundancy of dung beetles within primary forest and emphasize the high value of logged forests as refugia for biodiversity. In contrast, conversion of forest to oil palm greatly reduced taxonomic and functional diversity, with a marked decrease in the abundance of nocturnal foragers, a higher proportion of species with small body sizes and the complete loss of telecoprid species (dung-rollers), all indicating a decrease in the functional capacity of dung beetles within plantations. These changes also highlight the vulnerability of community functioning within logged forests in the event of further environmental degradation.
Project description:Animals can have both positive (e.g. via seed dispersal) and negative (e.g. via herbivory) impacts on plants. The net effects of these interactions remain difficult to predict and may be affected by overhunting and habitat disturbance, two widespread threats to tropical forests. Recent studies have documented their separate effects on plant recruitment but our understanding of how defaunation and logging interact to influence tropical tree communities is limited. From 2013 to 2016, we followed the fate of marked tree seedlings (n = 1489) from 81 genera in and outside experimental plots. Our plots differentially excluded small, medium and large-bodied mammal herbivores in logged and unlogged forest in Malaysian Borneo. We assessed the effects of experimental defaunation and logging on taxonomic diversity and plant trait (wood density, specific leaf area, fruit size) composition of seedling communities. Although seedling mortality was highest in the presence of all mammal herbivores (44%), defaunation alone did not alter taxonomic diversity nor plant trait composition. However, herbivores (across all body sizes) significantly reduced mean fruit size across the seedling community over time (95% confidence interval (CI): -0.09 to -0.01), particularly in logged forest (95% CI: -0.12 to -0.003). Our findings suggest that impacts of mammal herbivores on plant communities may be greater in forests with a history of disturbance and could subsequently affect plant functional traits and ecological processes associated with forest regeneration.
Project description:The long-term viability of a forest industry in the Amazon region of Brazil depends on the maintenance of adequate timber volume and growth in healthy forests. Using extensive high-resolution satellite analyses, we studied the forest damage caused by recent logging operations and the likelihood that logged forests would be cleared within 4 years after timber harvest. Across 2,030,637 km2 of the Brazilian Amazon from 1999 to 2004, at least 76% of all harvest practices resulted in high levels of canopy damage sufficient to leave forests susceptible to drought and fire. We found that 16+/-1% of selectively logged areas were deforested within 1 year of logging, with a subsequent annual deforestation rate of 5.4% for 4 years after timber harvests. Nearly all logging occurred within 25 km of main roads, and within that area, the probability of deforestation for a logged forest was up to four times greater than for unlogged forests. In combination, our results show that logging in the Brazilian Amazon is dominated by highly damaging operations, often followed rapidly by deforestation decades before forests can recover sufficiently to produce timber for a second harvest. Under the management regimes in effect at the time of our study in the Brazilian Amazon, selective logging would not be sustained.
Project description:Tropical forest degradation is a global environmental issue. In degraded forests, seedling recruitment of canopy trees is vital for forest regeneration and recovery. We investigated how selective logging, a pervasive driver of tropical forest degradation, impacts canopy tree seedling recruitment, focusing on an endemic dipterocarp Dryobalanops lanceolata in Sabah, Borneo. During a mast-fruiting event in intensively logged and nearby unlogged forest, we examined four stages of the seedling recruitment process: seed production, seed predation, and negative density-dependent germination and seedling survival. Our results suggest that each stage of the seedling recruitment process is altered in logged forest. The seed crop of D. lanceolata trees in logged forest was one-third smaller than that produced by trees in unlogged forest. The functional role of vertebrates in seed predation increased in logged forest while that of non-vertebrates declined. Seeds in logged forest were less likely to germinate than those in unlogged forest. Germination increased with local-scale conspecific seed density in unlogged forest, but seedling survival tended to decline. However, both germination and seedling survival increased with local-scale conspecific seed density in logged forest. Notably, seed crop size, germination, and seedling survival tended to increase for larger trees in both unlogged and logged forests, suggesting that sustainable timber extraction and silvicultural practices designed to minimize damage to the residual stand are important to prevent seedling recruitment failure. Overall, these impacts sustained by several aspects of seedling recruitment in a mast-fruiting year suggest that intensive selective logging may affect long-term population dynamics of D. lanceolata. It is necessary to establish if other dipterocarp species, many of which are threatened by the timber trade, are similarly affected in tropical forests degraded by intensive selective logging.
Project description: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 ?-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.
Project description: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.
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.