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Oecologia. 2003 Apr;135(2):313-21. Epub 2003 Mar 4.

An examination of scale of assessment, logging and ENSO-induced fires on butterfly diversity in Borneo.

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  • Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam, PO Box 94766, 1090 GT Amsterdam, The Netherlands. cleary@science.uva.nl


The impact of disturbance on species diversity may be related to the spatial scales over which it occurs. Here I assess the impact of logging and ENSO (El NiƱo Southern Oscillation) -induced burning and forest isolation on the species richness (477 species out of more than 28,000 individuals) and community composition of butterflies and butterfly guilds using small (0.9 ha) plots nested within large (450 ha) landscapes. The landscapes were located in three habitat classes: (1) continuous, unburned forest; (2) unburned isolates surrounded by burned forest; and (3) burned forest. Plots with different logging histories were sampled within the two unburned habitat classes, allowing for independent assessment of the two disturbance factors (logging and burning). Disturbance within habitat classes (logging) had a very different impact on butterfly diversity than disturbance among habitat classes (due to ENSO-induced burning and isolation). Logging increased species richness, increased evenness, and lowered dominance. Among guilds based on larval food plants, the species richness of tree and herb specialists was higher in logged areas but their abundance was lower. Both generalist species richness and abundance was higher in logged areas. Among habitat classes, species richness was lower in burned forest and isolates than continuous forest but there was no overall difference in evenness or dominance. Among guilds, generalist species richness was significantly lower in burned forest and isolates than continuous forest. Generalist abundance was also very low in the isolates. There was no difference among disturbance classes in herb specialist species richness but abundance was significantly higher in the isolates and burned forest than in continuous forest. Tree specialist species richness was lower in burned forest than continuous forest but did not differ between continuous forest and isolates. The scale of assessment proved important in estimating the impact of disturbance on species richness. Within disturbance classes, the difference in species richness between primary and logged forest was more pronounced at the smaller spatial scale. Among disturbance classes, the difference in species richness between continuous forest and isolates or burned forest was more pronounced at the larger spatial scale. The lower levels of species richness in ENSO-affected areas and at the larger (landscape) spatial scale indicate that future severe ENSO events may prove one of the most serious threats to extant biodiversity.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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