, Volume 25, Issue 5, pp 983-1000

Orangutan Nesting Behavior in Disturbed Forest of Sabah, Malaysia: Implications for Nest Census

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Abstract

High concentrations of orangutans remain in the multiple-use forests of the Lower Kinabatangan, Sabah, Malaysia. Compared to primary forest, the habitat is highly fragmented, characterized by a low tree density (332 stems/ha), small tree size (83.6% of trees are <20 m high), low basal area (18 m2/ha), abundance of canopy gaps and high level of soil disturbance. The forest structure and composition influence orangutan nesting patterns, and thus directly influence the results of nest surveys used to determine orangutan population size. In logged forests, tall and large trees are the preferred nesting sites of orangutans. The scarcity of suitable nesting sites in the logged-over forests of Kinabatangan, could partly explain the lower daily rate of nest construction (r = 1.00) versus those of other orangutan populations. The nest decay rate t recorded at the study site (average ± SD = 202 ± 151 days) strongly depends on the species of tree in which a nest is built. Our results illustrate that the nest-related parameters used for orangutan censuses fluctuate among habitat types and emphasize the need to determine specific values of r for specific orangutan populations and of t for different tree species in order to achieve accurate analysis of census data.