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The impact of forest conversion to oil palm on arthropod abundance and biomass in Sabah, Malaysia

  • Edgar C. Turner (a1) and William A. Foster (a1)


Deforestation rates in South-East Asia are among the highest of any tropical region, with expansion of oil palm being one important factor. Despite this, few studies have investigated the impact of oil palm expansion on the arthropod fauna. We report here the first study on the impact of forest conversion to oil palm on overall arthropod abundance, biomass and composition. We compared arthropod abundance and biomass, collected from epiphytic bird's nest ferns, the canopy, and leaf litter between primary forest, logged forest and oil palm plantation. Epiphytes, canopy and litter all contained a lower abundance (epiphytes: 67.2%, canopy: 2.3% and litter: 77.1% reduction) and biomass (epiphytes: 87.5%, canopy: 37.9% and litter: 72.4% reduction) of arthropods in oil palm compared with primary forest. However, not all orders of arthropods showed the same level of decline, with some groups having higher abundance and biomass in oil palm, resulting in an altered community composition in the epiphytes and canopy in oil palm compared with forest. Our results show that forest conversion to oil palm impacts detrimentally on invertebrates in all compartments of the forest ecosystem.


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