Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Leaf litter ants advance case for rainforest conservation in Borneo

Date:
October 20, 2011
Source:
University of Leeds
Summary:
Studies of ant populations in Borneo reveal an unexpected resilience to areas of rainforest degraded by repeated intensive logging, a finding which conservationists hope will lead governments to conserve these areas rather than allow them to be cleared and used for cash crop plantations.

Rainforest. Studies of ant populations in Borneo reveal an unexpected resilience to areas of rainforest degraded by repeated intensive logging. A finding which conservationists hope will lead governments to conserve these areas rather than allow them to be cleared and used for cash crop plantations.
Credit: WONG SZE FEI / Fotolia

Studies of ant populations in Borneo reveal an unexpected resilience to areas of rainforest degraded by repeated intensive logging. A finding which conservationists hope will lead governments to conserve these areas rather than allow them to be cleared and used for cash crop plantations.

Leaf litter ants are often used to measure the overall ecological health of an area because of the large number of species present and because the health of the leaf litter is a good indication of the overall health of the forest.

It is commonly assumed that repeated logging of rainforests has catastrophic effects on biodiversity. However, studies by Leeds ecologists in northern Borneo, where timber harvests are among the highest globally, have shown that in fact over 80% of ant species found in pristine, unlogged forest were also found in forest that had been logged twice.

The findings have implications for forest conservation as areas of forest where intensive logging has been carried out are typically thought to have little conservation value and are often allowed to be cleared entirely to make way for cash crops such as oil palm.

Keith Hamer, a Reader in Animal Ecology at the Institute of Integrative & Comparative Biology, led the study. He explains: "Rainforests in Borneo are managed through a system called 'selective logging'. In this system, not all the trees are harvested, only the largest, commercially valuable trees. This is supposed to be a sustainable system, but in practice the intensity of harvesting is often too high and areas are then liable to be logged a second time before they have had a chance properly to regenerate.

"These repeatedly logged areas can look awful, with big gaps in the tree canopy which are then invaded by grasses, leading to arguments that such areas are too badly degraded for conservation."

Dr Hamer added: "The logging clearly does have an effect on ant populations but it's not nearly as disastrous as might be expected. These areas are able to support much more diverse communities than oil palm plantations but large areas are still being converted. Preventing this needs to be a priority for policy-makers and conservationists in the region."

The study is part of the Royal Society's Southeast Asia Rainforest Research Programme and is published in a special edition of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. It was supported by a grant from the Leverhulme Trust.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Leeds. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. P. Woodcock, D. P. Edwards, T. M. Fayle, R. J. Newton, C. V. Khen, S. H. Bottrell, K. C. Hamer. The conservation value of South East Asia's highly degraded forests: evidence from leaf-litter ants. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2011; 366 (1582): 3256 DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2011.0031

Cite This Page:

University of Leeds. "Leaf litter ants advance case for rainforest conservation in Borneo." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111020105758.htm>.
University of Leeds. (2011, October 20). Leaf litter ants advance case for rainforest conservation in Borneo. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111020105758.htm
University of Leeds. "Leaf litter ants advance case for rainforest conservation in Borneo." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111020105758.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) The study weighs in on a debate over whether chimps are naturally violent or become that way due to human interference in the environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins