"It may not seem obvious, but even after substantial logging activities, tropical rainforests continue to be centers for biodiversity and could potentially play a role in conservation efforts," the Nature World News
The intermediate horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus affinis) is among the forest bats of Borneo. Photo courtesy of Matthew Streubig
That conclusion comes from research led by Matthew Struebig and Anthony Turner of the University of Kent's Durrell Institute of Conservation Ecology in the United Kingdom.
They studied bat diversity in Borneo, on land where timber had been harvested substantially more than two times, and found many bats thriving, reporter James A. Foley writes. "Recent studies have emphasized similar numbers of species living in unlogged and logged sites, but what surprised us was just how resilient some species were, even in sites almost unrecognizable as rainforest," Struebig told Nature World News
Yet, by examining forest sites that range from pristine to heavily damaged by logging, the researchers also detected a gradual decline in some bat species, especially those that roost in the cavities of old-growth trees.
Struebig and Turner demonstrated that these bat populations declined as consecutive rounds of logging altered the forests and, crucially, reduced the availability of tree cavities.
But, Foley reports, although logging damage was clearly detrimental to some of the species studied, the findings also offer some hope for forest-restoration efforts.
"Across the tropics there is increasing investment to restore the timber and wildlife in logged rainforests," Struebig told the website. "For biodiversity, simple measures, such as setting artificial nest boxes for bats and birds may, if guided by research, help bring some species back to the numbers found in unlogged areas."
The study was published in the journal Advances in Ecological Research
.Both Matthew Struebig and Anthony Turner received BCI Student Research Scholarships for parts of this years-long research effort. The scholarships were funded by U.S. Forest Service International Programs.