UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Effects of oil palm plantations on mammal communities in northeastern Borneo Yue, Sam


Agricultural expansion is considered the single largest threat to biodiversity. In Southeast Asia, the expansion of oil palm plantations is one of the leading causes of deforestation and habitat fragmentation. Studies have consistently shown that oil palm plantations support considerably lower biodiversity than native forest, yet little research has assessed how characteristics of the plantations influence diversity, or how edge effects of oil palm might impact species living in adjacent forest. I investigated whether 1) mammal diversity was different in oil palm plantations versus forest, 2) mammal diversity varied with characteristics of the plantations, such as tree height and proximity to forest, and 3) oil palm generated “edge effects” that reduced mammal diversity within nearby forest. Results were inconclusive as to whether the gamma diversity significantly differed between forest and oil palm at the α = 0.05 level. However, diversity and occurrence declined abruptly with decreasing forest proximity, suggesting that mammals within oil palm are largely constrained to locations in close proximity to native forest. Canopy cover and tree height within plantations had minimal relationships with mammal diversity and occurrence. I suggest that the only effective way to connect mammal populations in forests fragmented by oil palm development would be to retain or create large strips of forest through plantations to act as corridors. My results also suggest that degraded forests not yet converted to agriculture still retain relatively high conservation value and should not be replaced by oil palm.

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