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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Ray of Hope for Logged Forests
28 August 1998 3:00 pm
There may be less reason for gloom and doom at the sight of a patch of logged rain forest. Within a decade of selective logging, forests can recover levels of tree species diversity similar to those in unlogged areas, according to a study in this week's Science.
Until now, researchers thought that even selectively logged areas suffered from a decline in tree species diversity. The researchers hypothesized that young trees did not have much of a fighting chance against the erosion, soil compaction, and loss of tree canopy shelter caused by logging. However, for all the speculation, "there is amazingly little scientific information about the influence of selective logging," says John Battles, a forest community ecologist at the University of California, Berkeley.
Researchers led by botany doctoral student Charles Cannon at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, set out to examine the issue. The researchers counted the number of species of trees on parcels of land in the Indonesian Borneo rain forest that had been selectively logged for tall trees, either 1 or 8 years ago. They then counted the number of species of trees in areas that were intermixed with these logged areas but were not harvested because they were inaccessible. The researchers found that areas that had been logged 1 year before had 43% fewer tree species than unlogged forests. To their surprise, however, they found that forests logged 8 years ago had diversity similar to forests that were not logged.
The good news should be a call to action, says Robin Chazdon, an ecologist and evolutionary biologist at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. "There has not been enough emphasis on the value of a logged or otherwise degraded area," she says. "We view these [logged forests] as our table scraps, but they are going to be our main course in the future." She says greater measures must be taken to conserve the toppled timber forests so they are not converted to agricultural land, and to preserve enough of the original forests to provide seeds to repopulate the logged areas.