Evidence of forest restoration success and the conservation value of community-owned forests in Southwest China using dung beetles as indicators

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Abstract

Protection of the world’s remaining forests and biodiversity is a matter of global concern. Yunnan, China is home to China’s only mainland tropical rainforests, and 20% of China’s total biodiversity. Despite restoration measures and establishment of new protected areas, this region is still experiencing biodiversity loss due to inadequate management and monitoring. We evaluate restoration success of China’s tropical forests in Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve (XSBN-NNR), Yunnan, China using dung beetles as an indicator taxon. We sampled across a land-use gradient of human alteration: protected forest, restored forest, community owned forest, and rubber plantation. We collected 3,748 dung beetles from 21 species over a 3 month period. Multivariate analyses revealed unique assemblages in each land-use category, but with restored forest most similar to protected areas, suggesting restoration success in this region. Community forests were more diverse than plantations, suggesting that community forests may be a valuable and practical conservation tool in this region. Most species were generalists, although some had dietary and habitat preferences. Furthermore, dietary niche breadths were, on average, higher in disturbed areas, suggesting that disturbance may result in dietary changes. We show that restoration of tropical forests appears to be successful for a key ecological and biological indicator group- dung beetles. Furthermore, community-owned forests appear to be valuable and practical method of maintaining ecosystem health and biodiversity in the region. Future management in this region would likely benefit from encouragement to maintain community-owned forests, economic incentives for restoring farmland to forest, and increased environmental monitoring across the land-use gradient.

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Sullivan, C. D., Slade, E. M., Bai, M., Shi, K., & Riordan, P. (2018). Evidence of forest restoration success and the conservation value of community-owned forests in Southwest China using dung beetles as indicators. PLoS ONE, 13(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0204764

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