Designing oil palm landscapes to retain biodiversity using insights from a key ecological indicator group


Oil palm expansion threatens biodiverse ecosystems across the tropics. However, palm oil is a widely used and profitable crop, so identifying strategies that mitigate the impact of oil palm expansion on biodiversity is important. Riparian reserves (strips of forest along rivers) are protected in many countries for hydrological reasons and also support species that would not otherwise persist in oil palm. However, management guidelines for riparian zones have been informed by relatively few ecological studies. We assessed how the structural features and landscape context of riparian reserves in Sabah, Malaysia affected dung beetle communities. We also tested the use of flight intercept traps to study movement of dung beetles along linear forest corridors. Overall, dung beetle abundance in riparian reserves was 54% lower than in logged forest areas, but all species observed in the logged forest were found in at least one riparian reserve site and both species richness and diversity increased with reserve width. Distance from a large block of continuous forest affected dung beetle community composition but not species richness, abundance, or functional diversity. The amount of forest cover in the surrounding landscape improved the retention of species within riparian reserves, and increases in vegetation complexity corresponded with higher functional richness and functional dispersion. The flight intercept traps did not indicate that there is net movement of individuals out of logged forest areas into the riparian reserves. The species richness of 30 m reserves (the suggested requirement of reserves in Sabah) was only 10% lower than in logged forest, but our data indicate that riparian reserves of at least 50 – 80 m are needed for species richness and diversity to equal that in nearby logged forest. These findings, particularly if they apply more widely to forest-dependent taxa, should be taken into account when setting policy and sustainability guidelines for oil palm plantations, both in areas undergoing conversion from forest and in existing oil palm plantations where forest restoration is required. not peer-reviewed) is the author/funder. All rights reserved. No reuse allowed without permission. The copyright holder for this preprint (which was . doi: bioRxiv preprint first posted online Oct. 18, 2017;

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@inproceedings{Gray2017DesigningOP, title={Designing oil palm landscapes to retain biodiversity using insights from a key ecological indicator group}, author={Claudia L Gray and Eleanor M. Slade and Darren J. Mann and Owen T Lewis}, year={2017} }