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Riparian reserves help protect forest bird communities in oil palm dominated landscapes

Mitchell,, Simon, Edwards, David P., Coomes, David, Bernard, Henry, Davies, Zoe G., Struebig, Matthew J. (2018) Riparian reserves help protect forest bird communities in oil palm dominated landscapes. Journal of Applied Ecology, 55 (6). pp. 2744-2755. ISSN 0021-8901. (doi:10.1111/1365-2664.13233) (KAR id:63931)

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1. Conversion of forest to oil palm agriculture is a significant and continuing threat to tropical biodiversity. Despite this, little is known about the value of riparian reserves in oil palm and how these conservation set-asides might best be managed to maintain biodiversity.

2. We quantified bird community structure of 20 sites in an oil palm-forest mosaic in Sabah, Malaysia using 6104 detections from 867 point counts. Sites included oil palm riparian reserves of various vegetation quality and reserve widths, which were compared to oil palm streams without a riparian reserve, riparian areas in continuous logged forest and non-riparian logged forest control sites.

3. Riparian reserves, oil palm waterways, continuous riparian forest and non-riparian control forest sites supported distinct avifaunal communities. Generalised linear models showed riparian reserve width, forest quality and the amount of surrounding forest cover to be the strongest predictors of bird species richness. For forest dependent species, each of these predictors had stronger effect size when compared with all species. On average, reserves held 31% of all species and 30% of forest specialists, whereas continuous riparian forests averaged 32% of all species but 38% of forest species.

4. Riparian reserves with >40 m of natural vegetation on each bank supported similar bird diversity to riparian habitats found in continuous forest. However, to support equivalent numbers of forest-dependent species and species of conservation concern, reserves would need to be at least 100 m wide on each bank. The highest numbers of species were found in riparian forest with above-ground carbon densities exceeding 75 tC ha-1, indicating the importance of habitat quality, as well as width, in supporting riparian bird communities.

5. Synthesis and applications. If designed and protected appropriately, riparian reserves support diverse bird communities including many species of conservation concern in oil palm estates. This can be achieved by designating large reserves (80-200 m total width), but to maximize species numbers forest disturbance should also be minimised prior to conversion as well as during plantation operations.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1111/1365-2664.13233
Projects: Projects 31225969 not found.
Projects 31222275 not found.
Uncontrolled keywords: agriculture, riparian buffer, riparian zone, biodiversity, land-use change, fragmentation, landscape configuration, forest management.
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH541 Ecology
S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Depositing User: Matthew Struebig
Date Deposited: 10 Oct 2017 13:53 UTC
Last Modified: 22 Jan 2020 04:10 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Davies, Zoe G.:
Struebig, Matthew J.:
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