Impacts of selective logging on tree diversity across a rainforest landscape: the importance of spatial scale
Selective logging of tropical forests imposes spatial pattern on the landscape by creating a mosaic of patches affected by different intensities of disturbance. To understand the ecological impacts of selective logging it is therefore necessary to explore how patterns of tree species composition are affected by this patchy disturbance. This study examines the impacts of selective logging on species composition and spatial patterns of vegetation structure and tree diversity in Sabah, Borneo. We compare tree diversity between logged and unlogged forest at three scales: species richness within plots, species turnover among plots, and total species richness and composition of plots combined. Logging had no effect on tree diversity measured at the smallest scale. Logged forest had a greater rate of species turnover with distance, so at a large spatial scale it supported more tree species than the relatively homogeneous unlogged area. Tree species composition also differed significantly between the two types of forest, with more small dipterocarps and large pioneers in logged forest, and more large dipterocarps in unlogged forest. Our results emphasize the importance of sampling at a sufficiently large scale to represent patterns of biodiversity within tropical forest landscapes. Large areas of production forest in SE Asia are threatened with conversion to commercial crops; our findings show that selectively logged forest can retain considerable conservation value.