Invasive Species Compendium

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Abstract

Bird community assembly in Bornean industrial tree plantations: effects of forest age and structure.

Abstract

Plantations of exotic trees for industrial and agricultural purposes are burgeoning in the tropics, and some of them offer the opportunity to study community ecology of animals in a simplified forest setting. We examined bird community assembly in different aged groves of the industrial tree mangium (Acacia mangium) at two plantations in Malaysian Borneo: Sabah Softwoods near Tawau, Sabah, and the Planted Forest Project, near Bintulu, Sarawak. Bird communities were compared among three age-groups of mangium (2-, 5-, and 7-years old) and logged native forest. Mangium rapidly developed into a secondary forest consisting of a wide diversity of understory trees and shrubs. The bird community correspondingly increased in species richness and diversity, and we were able to relate these increases specifically to canopy height, secondary canopy development, and shrub cover. Species of common, small bodied frugivores, nectarivores, and insectivores were diverse in older plantation groves, as were common mid-sized insectivores. However, large, specialized, and normally uncommon taxa (e.g., galliforms, pigeons, hornbills, barbets, midsized woodpeckers, muscicapine flycatchers, and wren babblers) were rare or nonexistent in the plantations. Because we lacked species-specific data on foraging, nesting, and other behaviors of most groups of birds, it was difficult to explain the precise causes of seral diversification in any group except woodpeckers, which have been well studied in Southeast Asia. Thus, in future, particular emphasis needs to be placed on obtaining such data. Industrial plantations, by virtue of their simple structure, variably aged groves, and bird community richness, are good places to gather such data.