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Logged tropical forests have amplified and diverse ecosystem energetics

Malhi, Yadvinder, Riutta, Terhi, Wearn, Oliver R, Deere, Nicolas, Mitchell,, Simon L., Bernard, Henry, Majalap, Noreen, Nilus, Reuben, Davies, Zoe G., Ewers, Robert M., and others. (2022) Logged tropical forests have amplified and diverse ecosystem energetics. Nature, 612 (7941). pp. 707-713. ISSN 0028-0836. E-ISSN 1476-4687. (doi:10.1038/s41586-022-05523-1) (KAR id:97768)


Old growth tropical forests are widely recognised as immensely important for their biodiversity and high biomass1. Conversely, selectively logged tropical forests are usually characterised as degraded ecosystems2. However, whether logging results in a degradation in ecosystem functions is less clear: shifts in the strength and resilience of key ecosystem processes in large suites of species have rarely been assessed in an ecologically integrated and quantitative framework. Here we adopt an ecosystem energetics lens to gain new insight into the impacts of tropical forest disturbance on a key integrative aspect of ecological function: food pathways and community structure of birds and mammals. We focus on a gradient spanning old growth and logged forests and oil palm plantations in Borneo. In logged forest there is a 2.5-fold increase in total resource consumption by both birds and mammals compared to old growth forests, likely driven by greater resource accessibility and vegetation palatability. Most major energetic pathways maintain high species diversity and redundancy, implying maintained resilience. Conversion of logged forest into oil palm plantation results in the collapse of most energetic pathways. Far from being degraded ecosystems, even heavily logged forests can be vibrant and diverse ecosystems with enhanced levels of ecological function.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1038/s41586-022-05523-1
Additional information: For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence (where permitted by UKRI, an Open Government Licence or CC BY ND public copyright licence may be used instead) to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising.
Uncontrolled keywords: Animals, Birds, Mammals, Conservation of Natural Resources, Ecosystem, Biodiversity, Biomass, Tropical Climate, Borneo, Forests
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH541 Ecology
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH75 Conservation (Biology)
Q Science > QL Zoology
S Agriculture > SD Forestry
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Funders: Natural Environment Research Council (
Depositing User: Matthew Struebig
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2022 13:57 UTC
Last Modified: 27 Feb 2024 12:17 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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