Mass–abundance scaling in avian communities is maintained after tropical selective logging

Cindy C.P. Cosset, James J. Gilroy, Umesh Srinivasan, Matthew G. Hethcoat, David P. Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


Selective logging dominates forested landscapes across the tropics. Despite the structural damage incurred, selectively logged forests typically retain more biodiversity than other forest disturbances. Most logging impact studies consider conventional metrics, like species richness, but these can conceal subtle biodiversity impacts. The mass–abundance relationship is an integral feature of ecological communities, describing the negative relationship between body mass and population abundance, where, in a system without anthropogenic influence, larger species are less abundant due to higher energy requirements. Changes in this relationship can indicate community structure and function changes. We investigated the impacts of selective logging on the mass–abundance scaling of avian communities by conducting a meta-analysis to examine its pantropical trend. We divide our analysis between studies using mist netting, sampling the understory avian community, and point counts, sampling the entire community. Across 19 mist-netting studies, we found no consistent effects of selective logging on mass–abundance scaling relative to primary forests, except for the omnivore guild where there were fewer larger-bodied species after logging. In eleven point-count studies, we found a more negative relationship in the whole community after logging, likely driven by the frugivore guild, showing a similar pattern. Limited effects of logging on mass–abundance scaling may suggest high species turnover in logged communities, with like-for-like replacement of lost species with similar-sized species. The increased negative mass–abundance relationship found in some logged communities could result from resource depletion, density compensation, or increased hunting; potentially indicating downstream impacts on ecosystem functions. Synthesis and applications. Our results suggest that size distributions of avian communities in logged forests are relatively robust to disturbance, potentially maintaining ecosystem processes in these forests, thus underscoring the high conservation value of logged tropical forests, indicating an urgent need to focus on their protection from further degradation and deforestation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2803-2812
Number of pages10
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number6
Early online date29 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • biodiversity
  • birds
  • local size–density relationship
  • mass–abundance relationship
  • production forest
  • size distribution
  • local size-density relationship
  • mass-abundance relationship

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