Tropical forest seedling census data from Danum Valley, Sabah, Malaysia (2019-2021)

  • David Burslem (Creator)
  • Lindsay Banin (Creator)
  • David Bartholomew (Creator)
  • Mohd Aminur Faiz Bin Suiz (Creator)
  • Paulo Bittencourt (Creator)
  • Daniel Chapman (Creator)
  • Daisy Dent (Creator)
  • Robin Hayward (Creator)
  • Michael O'Brien (Creator)
  • Lucy Rowland (Creator)
  • L.F. Banin (Creator)
  • D.C. Bartholomew (Creator)
  • M.A.F. Bin Suis (Creator)
  • P.R.L. Bittencourt (Creator)
  • D. H. Dent (Creator)
  • R.M. Hayward (Creator)
  • M.J. O’Brien (Creator)
  • L.M. Rowland (Creator)
  • University Of Aberdeen (Contributor)
  • NERC EDS Environmental Information Data Centre (Contributor)



Data Link This is a link to a dataset affiliated with SEARRP but that is stored in a different repository. Please find the link to the dataset below, and be sure to cite the data correctly via that repository. Correct Citation Burslem, D.F.R.P.; Banin, L.F.; Bartholomew, D.C.; Bin Suis, M.A.F.; Bittencourt, P.R.L.; Chapman, D.; Dent, D.H.; Hayward, R.M.; O’Brien, M.J.; Rowland, L.M. (2022). Tropical forest seedling census data from Danum Valley, Sabah, Malaysia, 2019-2021. NERC EDS Environmental Information Data Centre. (Dataset). Abstract Southeast Asian tropical forests have been subjected to recent intense pressure due to selective logging and widespread clearance for Oil Palm cultivation. Consequently there is an emerging interest in restoring degraded forests using either natural regeneration or active restoration treatments. However, the reproductive biology of Southeast Asian tropical forest trees limits research on the effectiveness of these approaches, because most large canopy trees only flower and fruit very rarely. These sporadic mass reproductive events are responsible for establishing new cohorts of seedlings that grow up to become the next generation of adult canopy trees, and it is critical to discover whether the success of these episodic attempts at regeneration is as great in forests that have been degraded by logging as they are in primary forests, and whether the processes leading to seedling recruitment are restored effectively in forests where treatments such as tree planting and climber cutting have been applied. However, because these regeneration events occur so infrequently and unpredictably it is very difficult to incorporate them into the conventional planning cycle for research, despite the critical importance of the events that occur early in the life cycle of trees to future forests. In this project we will rapidly establish sampling sites in Sabah, Malaysia, where we know that a mass flowering of canopy trees was initiated in May 2019, for the first time since 2010. We aim to compare the amount and diversity of fruits and seedlings produced during this masting event in primary (undisturbed, unlogged) forests, and in adjacent forests that have been logged and either left to regenerate naturally or restored by planting tree seedlings and maintaining them for five years by climber cutting. Because the restoration of logged forests began more than 20 years ago, the original cohort of planted seedlings are now, in some cases, large canopy trees that may contribute seeds and seedlings for the first time during the reproductive event this year. We will also measure the expression of traits that determine how plants capture and use resources such as light and nutrients for the most common species that occur in each of the three types of forest, which will determine whether the community of seedlings that establish in the restored forests functions in a more similar way to that in the undisturbed primary forest than in the forests left to regenerate naturally after logging. A key focus on this study will be on species of the dominant family of canopy and emergent trees, the Dipterocarpaceae, which are targeted for logging. Logged forests possess a lower density of large reproductively mature dipterocarp individuals, and a key aim of restoration is to re-establish the dominance and diversity of this family by planting and maintaining dipterocarp seedlings. Dipterocarps possess an unusual trait for the tree flora of tropical forests, which is that they form mutualistic associations with root-colonising ectomycorrhizal fungi (ECM), whereas most other species in the forest form a different type of root association with arbuscular mycorrhizas (AM). Our recent research has shown that ECM seedlings benefit from proximity to a high density of ECM adults, possibly because they exchange resources through a common below-ground fungal network and because ECM species suppress root pathogens. In contrast, AM seedlings have lower survival when located close to a high density of adults of the same species. A final aim of our project is to test whether the beneficial effects of high adult density for ECM species is reduced in logged forests where the density of ECM adults is much lower, and whether these effects are offset by restoration. This research will therefore contribute results that are vital to understanding how Southeast Asian forests regenerate during masting events, and whether the negative effects of logging can be mitigated by restoration. Link to project website: GtR ( Link to data repository: DOI
Date made available2022
Geospatial polygon-13.643, 129.551, 11.885, 86.309

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