Forested tropical peatlands in Southeast Asia are being rapidly converted to agriculture or degraded into non-forest vegetation. Although large areas have been abandoned, there is little evidence for subsequent forest recovery. As part of a study of forest degradation and recovery, we used seed removal experiments and rodent surveys to investigate the potential role of post-dispersal seed predation in limiting the regeneration of woody plants. Two 14-day seed removal trials were done in deforested and forested peatland habitat in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Seeds of Nephelium lappaceum, Syzygium muelleri, Artocarpus heterophyllus (all animal-dispersed) and Combretocarpus rotundatus (wind-dispersed) were tested. Significantly more seeds (82.8%) were removed in forest than non-forest (38.1%) and Combretocarpus had the lowest removal in both habitats. Most handled seeds were eaten in situ and little caching was observed. Six species of rodents were captured in forest and five in non-forest. The most trapped taxa were three Maxomys spp. in forest (85.5% of individuals) and Rattus tiomanicus in non-forest (74.8%). Camera traps confirmed that rodents were responsible for seed removal. Seed predation in deforested areas, which have a much lower seed rain than forest, may contribute to the low density and diversity of regenerating forest.
- Authors: Blackham, G.V., Corlett, R.T.
- Author Affiliation: Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, 14 Science Drive 4, 117543, Center for Integrative Conservation, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Menglun, Yunnan, 666303
- Subjects: peatlands, tropics, agriculture, degradation, wildlife, habitat, ecology, rodents, seed predation
- Publication type: Journal Article
- Source: Scientific Reports 5: 14152
- Year: 2015
- DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/srep14152