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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Research project: Biodiversity, Ecosystem Functions and Policy Across a Tropical Forest Modification Gradient

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Project type: 
Grant

LOMBOK (Land-use Options for Maintaining BiOdiversity and eKosystem functions) is part of the HMTF (Human Modified Tropical Forests) programme, a multidisciplinary consortium of researchers investigating biodiversity and the services it provides in human-modified tropical forests.

Sabah, Borneo where tropical forest has been cleared to plant oil palm
Sabah, Borneo where tropical forest has been cleared to plant oil palm

We are part of the Human Modified Tropical Forest (HMTF) research programme which aims to integrate experimental and observational data with models to understand the role of biodiversity in major forest biogeochemical cycles, explore the spatial correlations between ecosystem function in terms of biogeochemical cycles and the distribution of species that are of conservation concern, and develop new technological capabilities for sustainable long-term observations of biogeochemical cycling in forests.

Tropical forests are crucial reservoirs of biodiversity and play a vital role in the provision of ecosystem services. However, almost half of these forests have already been cleared or degraded for agriculture or forestry, and rates of forest degradation continue to rise. Increasingly, secondary forests, plantation mosaics and other human-modified habitats will dominate tropical landscapes. The persistence of biodiversity in the tropics, and the maintenance of the important biogeochemical cycles and ecosystem services associated with it, will depend to a large extent on the way we treat the wider tropical landscape.

Our team works within the Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems (SAFE) landscape in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. We are assessing the extent to which different elements of biodiversity (e.g. species of conservation concern) co-vary spatially with measures of ecosystem function (decomposition processes and biogeochemical cycles). With vital input from forestry and agriculture stakeholders, we will model the impact of land-use policies (e.g. REDD+) and environmental certification schemes on these conservation values. Our work combines surveys of biodiversity and biogeochemistry along a gradient of forest modification (to detect patterns) with in situ manipulative experiments (to gain a mechanistic understanding of biodiversity-function linkages).

For more details see our project website.

Funding: Natural Environmental Research Council through their programme Human Modified Tropical Forest Research Programme.

Funding Duration: October 2013-March 2019

Related research groups

Environmental Biosciences
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