Investigating residual effects of selective logging on ant species assemblages in Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Sri Lanka
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The residual effects of logging on forest fauna and flora have been well studied in other regions of the world, with many investigations finding that recovery of species richness and abundance can occur within one or two decades after the logging event. In this study, we use ant assemblages to compare logged (>30 years) and unlogged mixed dipterocarp forest in the Sinharaja Forest Reserve, a World Heritage Site in Sri Lanka. Species richness and abundance were higher in the logged forest than in the unlogged forest, but not significantly so. Species assemblages, on the other hand, were significantly different and were associated with different environmental variables in the logged and unlogged forest. The findings from this study corroborate other studies that have shown that species composition in logged forest does not appear to return to unlogged forest composition, even after three to six decades have passed. Since this study was not a before-and-after comparison, it is difficult to confirm whether the differences arise from the residual effects of logging or from the general patchiness of species distribution in tropical forest. However, the cumulative results do suggest that there is a residual effect of logging on ant species composition in this forest, even after more than 30 years of regeneration.
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