Diversity Under Logging

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Science  28 Feb 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5611, pp. 1283
DOI: 10.1126/science.299.5611.1283c

The role that natural disturbances—especially treefalls—play in maintaining biodiversity has produced a large ecological literature in recent decades. At the other extreme, the role of clear-felling of tropical forest in reducing or extinguishing this diversity has also become depressingly familiar. The fate of many tropical forests, however, may lie between these extremes, because the forest is selectively logged for the timber of relatively few species and so the consequences for biodiversity are less well understood.

Hamer et al. studied the response of butterflies to selective logging in Borneo by comparing butterfly species assemblages in intact forest and forest that had been logged a decade earlier. Overall butterfly diversity in the two habitats was similar, but the composition of the assemblages differed. Selective logging resulted in a structurally less heterogeneous habitat with fewer open gaps and less dense shade than intact forest. Shade-preferring species with narrow geographic distributions were adversely affected in logged forest, as were widely distributed species that preferred open gaps. Thus, careful management of selective logging to maintain the structural heterogeneity of the forest could be a tool to alleviate potential losses of diversity. — AMS

J. Appl. Ecol. 40, 150 (2003).

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