Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Small Amounts, Massive Damage – The Effect of Selective Logging on Fish Biodiversity

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Small Amounts, Massive Damage – The Effect of Selective Logging on Fish Biodiversity

Researchers have found that selective logging has the same harmful impacts on freshwater fish biodiversity as total deforestation, despite lesser trees being removed from the rainforest. The results of the study, published last week in the journal Biological Conservation, surprised even the researchers, which included Dr. Tan Heok Hui from LKCNHM and Dr. Darren Yeo from the Department of Biological Sciences.

The researchers sampled from 23 streams in southeastern Sabah, Borneo, as part of the SAFE (Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems) Project, which aims to assess the impact of human activities on forest ecosystems.

They had expected that the extent of damage would increase with a greater amount of rainforest logging. However, the results showed that the drop in fish biodiversity (the number of different fish species) was almost equal for all logged areas, regardless of the extent of logging.

The researchers concluded that it is essential to continue conserving forested areas to maintain the biodiversity of freshwater fishes, and look for ways to protect freshwater ecosystems during logging works that are expected to continue across the region.

Wilkinson CL, Yeo DCJ, Tan HH, Fikri AH & Ewers RM (2018) Land-use change is associated with a significant loss of freshwater fish species and functional richness in Sabah, Malaysia. Biological Conservation, 2018; 222: 164 DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2018.04.004