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Mammal species composition and habitat associations in a commercial forest and mixed-plantation landscape

March 26, 2021

Commercial forest plantations of fast-growing species have been established globally to meet increasing demands for timber, pulpwood, and other wood products. Industrial plantations may contribute to tropical forest conservation by reducing exploitation of primary and secondary natural forests. Whether such plantations can support critical elements of biodiversity, including provision of habitat and movement corridors for species of conservation concern, is an important question in Southeast Asia. Our objectives were to investigate relationships between habitat gradients and community attributes of medium-sized to large mammals in a mixed plantation mosaic in Bengkoka Peninsula, Sabah, East Malaysia. Data on mammals were collected using 59 remote camera stations deployed for a minimum of 21 days (24-hour sampling occasions) in three major land-use types: natural forest, Acacia plantations, and non-Acacia plantations (oil palm, rubber, young Eucalyptus pellita). We used sample-based rarefaction to evaluate variation in species richness with land use. We used generalized linear models and ordination analyses to evaluate whether variation in mammal detections and species composition was associated with habitat gradients. We recorded >22 mammal species over 1572 sampling occasions. Natural forest area was positively associated with mammal species richness and detections of threatened mammals. Overall detections of mammals increased with decreasing elevation, but decreased within, and close to, Acacia plantations. Detections of threatened mammals increased with greater proportions of natural forest and Acacia and increasing proximity to roads. Sample-based rarefaction indicated that species richness of mammals in Acacia and natural forest was considerably higher than observed. Both natural forest and Acacia plantations shared similar values for species richness and diversity, but non-Acacia plantations scored lower in both metrics. Mammal species composition differed among different types of land use. Smaller generalists used non-Acacia plantation forests. A variety of other mammals including some threatened species used natural forest, Acacia, or a combination of the two. Acacia plantations possess attributes supporting a diversity of mammal species, including those we defined as threatened based on IUCN criteria. However, this is likely a function of the habitat mosaic with natural forest in the study area and the mangrove forests on the fringes of the peninsula serving as refuges of mammal diversity. Retention and restoration of natural and mangrove forests may therefore enhance the conservation potential of industrial Acacia plantations. Additionally, controlled road access in conjunction with anti-poaching operations and strengthening public awareness are essential to reduce the threat of overexploitation.

Publication Year 2021
Title Mammal species composition and habitat associations in a commercial forest and mixed-plantation landscape
DOI 10.1016/j.foreco.2021.119163
Authors Wai Pak Ng, Frank T. van Manen, Stuart P. Sharp, Siew Te Wong, Shyamala Ratnayeke
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Forest Ecology and Management
Index ID 70219422
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center