Bornean tropical forests recovering from logging at risk of regeneration failure

Bartholomew, David C.; Hayward, Robin; Burslem, David F.R.P.; Bittencourt, Paulo R.L.; Chapman, Daniel; Bin Suis, Mohd. Aminur Faiz; Nilus, Reuben; O'Brien, Michael J.; Reynolds, Glen; Rowland, Lucy; Banin, Lindsay F. ORCID:; Dent, Daisy. 2024 Bornean tropical forests recovering from logging at risk of regeneration failure. Global Change Biology, 30 (3), e17209. 19, pp.

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Active restoration through silvicultural treatments (enrichment planting, cutting climbers and liberation thinning) is considered an important intervention in logged forests. However, its ability to enhance regeneration is key for long-term recovery of logged forests, which remains poorly understood, particularly for the production and survival of seedlings in subsequent generations. To understand the long-term impacts of logging and restoration we tracked the diversity, survival and traits of seedlings that germinated immediately after a mast fruiting in North Borneo in unlogged and logged forests 30–35 years after logging. We monitored 5119 seedlings from germination for ~1.5 years across a mixed landscape of unlogged forests (ULs), naturally regenerating logged forests (NR) and actively restored logged forests via rehabilitative silvicultural treatments (AR), 15–27 years after restoration. We measured 14 leaf, root and biomass allocation traits on 399 seedlings from 15 species. Soon after fruiting, UL and AR forests had higher seedling densities than NR forest, but survival was the lowest in AR forests in the first 6 months. Community composition differed among forest types; AR and NR forests had lower species richness and lower evenness than UL forests by 5–6 months post-mast but did not differ between them. Differences in community composition altered community-weighted mean trait values across forest types, with higher root biomass allocation in NR relative to UL forest. Traits influenced mortality ~3 months post-mast, with more acquisitive traits and relative aboveground investment favoured in AR forests relative to UL forests. Our findings of reduced seedling survival and diversity suggest long time lags in post-logging recruitment, particularly for some taxa. Active restoration of logged forests recovers initial seedling production, but elevated mortality in AR forests lowers the efficacy of active restoration to enhance recruitment or diversity of seedling communities. This suggests current active restoration practices may fail to overcome barriers to regeneration in logged forests, which may drive long-term changes in future forest plant communities.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Atmospheric Chemistry and Effects (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 1354-1013
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: demography, disturbance, diversity, fruiting, functional traits, general masting, lowland tropical forests, mortality, restoration, selective logging
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Data and Information
Date made live: 13 Mar 2024 13:58 +0 (UTC)

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