Microbial Ecology

, Volume 69, Issue 4, pp 733–747 | Cite as

Responses of Soil Fungi to Logging and Oil Palm Agriculture in Southeast Asian Tropical Forests

  • K. L. McGuire
  • H. D’Angelo
  • F. Q. Brearley
  • S. M. Gedallovich
  • N. Babar
  • N. Yang
  • C. M. Gillikin
  • R. Gradoville
  • C. Bateman
  • B. L. Turner
  • P. Mansor
  • J. W. Leff
  • N. Fierer
Fungal Microbiology


Human land use alters soil microbial composition and function in a variety of systems, although few comparable studies have been done in tropical forests and tropical agricultural production areas. Logging and the expansion of oil palm agriculture are two of the most significant drivers of tropical deforestation, and the latter is most prevalent in Southeast Asia. The aim of this study was to compare soil fungal communities from three sites in Malaysia that represent three of the most dominant land-use types in the Southeast Asia tropics: a primary forest, a regenerating forest that had been selectively logged 50 years previously, and a 25-year-old oil palm plantation. Soil cores were collected from three replicate plots at each site, and fungal communities were sequenced using the Illumina platform. Extracellular enzyme assays were assessed as a proxy for soil microbial function. We found that fungal communities were distinct across all sites, although fungal composition in the regenerating forest was more similar to the primary forest than either forest community was to the oil palm site. Ectomycorrhizal fungi, which are important associates of the dominant Dipterocarpaceae tree family in this region, were compositionally distinct across forests, but were nearly absent from oil palm soils. Extracellular enzyme assays indicated that the soil ecosystem in oil palm plantations experienced altered nutrient cycling dynamics, but there were few differences between regenerating and primary forest soils. Together, these results show that logging and the replacement of primary forest with oil palm plantations alter fungal community and function, although forests regenerating from logging had more similarities with primary forests in terms of fungal composition and nutrient cycling potential. Since oil palm agriculture is currently the mostly rapidly expanding equatorial crop and logging is pervasive across tropical ecosystems, these findings may have broad applicability.


Fungal Community Primary Forest Dipterocarp Forest Lactarius Soil Fungal Community 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank Lee Su See, Stuart Davies, and the Center for Tropical Forest Science (CTFS) for logistical support. Permits were granted by the Forestry Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM), the Economic Planning Unit of Malaysia, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation (DEB 1120011 to KM). We thank Jonathan Adams and one anonymous reviewer for useful feedback on previous versions of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. L. McGuire
    • 1
    • 2
  • H. D’Angelo
    • 2
  • F. Q. Brearley
    • 3
  • S. M. Gedallovich
    • 1
  • N. Babar
    • 1
  • N. Yang
    • 1
  • C. M. Gillikin
    • 1
  • R. Gradoville
    • 4
  • C. Bateman
    • 1
  • B. L. Turner
    • 5
  • P. Mansor
    • 6
  • J. W. Leff
    • 7
  • N. Fierer
    • 7
    • 8
  1. 1.Department of BiologyBarnard College of Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental BiologyColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.School of Science and the EnvironmentManchester Metropolitan UniversityManchesterUK
  4. 4.College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric SciencesOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  5. 5.Smithsonian Tropical Research InstituteBalboaRepublic of Panama
  6. 6.Forest Research Institute MalaysiaKuala LumpurMalaysia
  7. 7.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of Colorado, BoulderBoulderUSA
  8. 8.Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental SciencesUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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