In Southeast Asia, some plantation developers have retained patches of native forest within plantations to promote wildlife diversity, but relatively few studies have examined the effectiveness of such efforts. To provide more information on the interaction between native forest and plantation, we conducted surveys of birds in patches of logged native forest and surrounding groves of exotic plantations in Borneo. We asked the following questions: Does plantation age influence the bird community in adjacent native forest fragments? Are bird communities in the plantations influenced by the presence of small fragments of native forest? Are bird communities in more intensively managed plantations different compared to less intensively managed plantation? Do bird distributions across habitat types vary by functional trait? Our study was conducted in a 500,000 ha multi-use landscape in Sarawak, Malaysia. We identified 15 native forest fragments within exotic plantation, and these were partitioned into old (>7 yr) and young (<5 yr) groves. We conducted surveys in the native forest fragments and in the 2 age groups of adjacent plantation at distances near (<500 m) and far (>500 m) from fragments. Species richness was highest in native forest fragments. In plantation groves near fragments, species richness remained comparable to native forest but dropped significantly in young plantation far from fragments. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) threat status was significantly related to species habitat associations, with Near Threatened species preferring native forest. Although protecting large tracts of native forest is optimal for protection of birds, smaller patches may also maintain considerable levels of species richness in plantations, and they may be particularly important during the early phases (first 5 yr) of plantation growth.
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