Invertebrate-Mediated Ecosystem Processes are Resilient to Disturbance Across a Land-Use Gradient in Borneo

Li Yuen Chiew, Jedediah F. Brodie, David F.R.P. Burslem, Glen Reynolds, Charles S. Vairappan, Eleanor M. Slade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A fundamental challenge for ecologists is to evaluate the effects of anthropogenic disturbance on ecosystem processes and functions. Tropical rainforests in Borneo are biologically diverse and provide an array of ecosystem functions and services. However, these forests are being logged and converted to agricultural plantations at a rapid pace. While there are numerous studies on the impacts of these land-use changes on biodiversity, there are far fewer that investigate the consequences of forest disturbance for ecosystem functioning. We investigated the impacts of land-use change in Bornean tropical rainforests on invertebrate-mediated functions using a suite of six easily measurable processes that are linked to nutrient cycling and plant regeneration, and which can be used as indicators of the degree of disturbance and the health of the forest. We explored whether the conversion of primary forest to logged, fragmented forest or agricultural plantations altered the ecosystem processes of dung removal, predation of insect herbivores, functional activity of soil invertebrates, bioturbation, seed removal, and decomposition. Overall, ecosystem processes remained resistant to habitat change except for seed removal, which was lower in heavily logged forests and plantations than in primary forests. This suggests that, despite the loss of many species when forests are logged and converted to agriculture, ecosystem processes provided by invertebrates can remain robust across land-use gradients. Graphical Abstract: (Figure presented.)

Original languageEnglish
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • biodiversity
  • ecosystem functioning
  • habitat change
  • logging
  • multifunctionality
  • oil palm
  • tropical forest


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