Logging cuts the functional importance of invertebrates in tropical rainforest
Ewers, Robert M.; Boyle, Michael J.W.; Gleave, Rosalind A.; Plowman, Nichola S.; Benedick, Suzan; Bernard, Henry; Bishop, Tom R.; Bakhtiar, Effendi Y.; Chey, Vun Khen; Chung, Arthur Y.C.; Davies, Richard G.; Edwards, David P.; Eggleton, Paul; Fayle, Tom M.; Hardwick, Stephen R.; Homathevi, Rahman; Kitching, Roger L.; Khoo, Min Sheng; Luke, Sarah H.; March, Joshua J.; Nilus, Reuben; Pfeifer, Marion; Rao, Sri V.; Sharp, Adam C.; Snaddon, Jake L.; Stork, Nigel E.; Struebig, Matthew J.; Wearn, Oliver R.; Yusah, Kalsum M.; Turner, Edgar C.
Invertebrates are dominant species in primary tropical rainforests, where their abundance and
diversity contributes to the functioning and resilience of these globally important ecosystems.
However, more than one-third of tropical forests have been logged, with dramatic impacts
on rainforest biodiversity that may disrupt key ecosystem processes. We find that the
contribution of invertebrates to three ecosystem processes operating at three trophic levels
(litter decomposition, seed predation and removal, and invertebrate predation) is reduced by
up to one-half following logging. These changes are associated with decreased abundance of
key functional groups of termites, ants, beetles and earthworms, and an increase in the
abundance of small mammals, amphibians and insectivorous birds in logged relative to
primary forest. Our results suggest that ecosystem processes themselves have considerable
resilience to logging, but the consistent decline of invertebrate functional importance is
indicative of a human-induced shift in how these ecological processes operate in tropical