Changes in Structure and Functioning of Protist (Testate Amoebae) Communities Due to Conversion of Lowland Rainforest into Rubber and Oil Palm Plantations.
Citable Link (URL):http://resolver.sub.uni-goettingen.de/purl?gs-1/13503
Large areas of tropical rainforest are being converted to agricultural and plantation land uses, but little is known of biodiversity and ecological functioning under these replacement land uses. We investigated the effects of conversion of rainforest into jungle rubber, intensive rubber and oil palm plantations on testate amoebae, diverse and functionally important protists in litter and soil. Living testate amoebae species richness, density and biomass were all lower in replacement land uses than in rainforest, with the impact being more pronounced in litter than in soil. Similar abundances of species of high and low trophic level in rainforest suggest that trophic interactions are more balanced, with a high number of functionally redundant species, than in rubber and oil palm. In contrast, plantations had a low density of high trophic level species indicating losses of functions. This was particularly so in oil palm plantations. In addition, the relative density of species with siliceous shells was >50% lower in the litter layer of oil palm and rubber compared to rainforest and jungle rubber. This difference suggests that rainforest conversion changes biogenic silicon pools and increases silicon losses. Overall, the lower species richness, density and biomass in plantations than in rainforest, and the changes in the functional composition of the testate amoebae community, indicate detrimental effects of rainforest conversion on the structure and functioning of microbial food webs.