Avifauna recovers faster in areas less accessible to trapping in regenerating tropical forests

H.S. Sathya Chandra Sagar, James J. Gilroy, Tom Swinfield, Zuzana Burivalova, Ding Li Yong, Elva Gemita, Novriyanti Novriyanti, David C. Lee, Muhammad Nazri Janra, Andrew Balmford, Fangyuan Hua

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Tropical forest restoration stands to deliver important conservation gains, particularly in lowland Southeast Asia, which has suffered some of the world's highest rates of recent forest loss and degradation. This promise, however, depends on the extent to which biodiversity at forest restoration sites continues to be exposed to threats. A key knowledge gap concerns the extent to which biodiversity recovery in naturally regenerating tropical forests is impacted by trapping for the multi-million-dollar wildlife trade. Here, we use a repeated survey dataset to quantify rates of avian community recovery under forest regeneration, at a flagship restoration site in the lowland rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia. We show that over a decade, forest regeneration was associated with significant abundance increases for 43.8 % of bird species. However, the apparent negative impacts of trade-driven trapping on avian populations also intensified: the proportion of species dependent on very remote forests increased from 5.4 % to 16.2 %. Moreover, the overall accessibility of the forest increased. We found that 14 % of species did not recover as fast as predicted based on the observed forest regeneration over the study period. We found trapping to disproportionately impact species targeted for trade: compared to opportunistically trapped species, twice more species showed increased abundance only in very remote forests. Our results highlight the potential for rapid avifaunal recovery in regenerating tropical forests, but also emphasize the urgency of tackling the serious threat of wildlife trade to Southeast Asia's biodiversity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number109901
JournalBiological Conservation
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023

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