More Evidence Palm Oil Plantations Are Bad for Biodiversity: Have Two-Thirds Lower Ant Species Than Forests


photo: kodok via flickr.

One more on the fact that, despite EU proposals to the contrary, palm oil plantations are not the same as forest, having far lower levels of biodiversity: Mongabay points out new research in the journal Basic and Applied Ecology shows that the number of ant species on plantations is about one-third of those found in intact areas:Examining ant populations in Sabah, Malaysia's Danum Valley Conservation Area and nearby palm oil plantations, Tom Fayle of Cambridge University counted 309 ant species in the intact forest and only 110 species in the plantations.


Above: Monoculture oil palm plantation (not in Borneo, but you get the idea...), photo: Steve Ryan via flickr. Below: Proboscis monkey in an actual forest, Sabah, Malaysia. Photo: Tim Parkinson/Creative Commons.

Fayle noted that these losses were not the same across all microhabitats, with ants living in leaf litter showing the highest percentage of decline (-74%), followed by in the tree canopy (-52%), and those in ferns (-3%).

Also, non-native ant species were more abundant in the plantations than in the intact forest, with few forest ant species surviving land conversion from forest to plantation. Overall an 81% decline in forest species was found when land is turned into plantation.

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Tags: Animals | Biodiversity | Biofuels | Malaysia

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