Resource Details

The Sabah Biodiversity Experiment: A long-term test of the role of tree diversity in restoring tropical forest structure and functioning

Literature: Journal Articles

Hector, A., Philipson, C., Saner, P., Chamagne, J., Dzulkifli, D., O’Brien, M., Snaddon, J.L., Ulok, P., Weilenmann, M., Reynolds, G. & Godfray, H.C.J. 2011, "The Sabah Biodiversity Experiment: A long-term test of the role of tree diversity in restoring tropical forest structure and functioning", Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, vol. 366, no. 1582, pp. 3303-3315.

Contact Info

Corresponding Author:


  • Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland
  • Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, United Kingdom
  • The Royal Society South East Asia Rainforest Research Programme, Danum Valley Field Centre, PO Box 60282, 91112 Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia
  • Department of Zoology and Oxford Martin School Biodiversity Institute, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, United Kingdom


Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

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Species Info

  • Shorea johorensis
  • Shorea gibbosa
  • Shorea argentifolia
  • Shorea faguetiana
  • Shorea leprosula  
  • Shorea macrophylla
  • Shorea macroptera
  • Shorea ovalis
  • Shorea parvifolia
  • Shorea beccariana
  • Parashorea malaanonan
  • Parashorea tomentella
  • Hopea sangal
  • Hopea ferruginea
  • Dryobalanops lanceolata
  • Dipterocarpus conformis 


  • This article details the initial stages of an experiment in Borneo which aims to study the relationship between tree diversity and lowland dipterocarp rainforest functioning during restoration after selective logging.
  • The area of the forest where the experiment is being conducted was selectively logged between 1984 and 1986. 
  • Over an area of 500 hectares, enrichment plantings of 16 different native dipterocarp seedlings were made along cleared lines into cuts of the pre-existing, selectively logged forest.
  • The project is comprised of 124 plots of 4 hectares divided into 2 blocks; the core of the project is a set of 108 plots which include plots of all 16 species planted individually, as well as 16 different 4-species mixtures and plots of all 16 species combined, and 12 unplanted control plots; the remaining 16 plots form a sub-experiment to examine the effect of enhanced removal of climbing plants.
  • Four identical transects of 10 x 250m were established in nearby primary forest and within the selectively logged area.
  • Logging did not affect alpha or beta diversity; however, a large dissimilarity in species composition was found between the unlogged and selectively logged sites.
  • Forest structure was impacted by logging which was supported by the observations of a total stand basal area of 29.9+0.7 for the unlogged forest versus 25.0+0.8 s.e.m. m2ha-1for the logged forest, and a relative contribution of 60% to total stand basal area of dipterocarps in the unlogged forest versus 30% in the logged forest.
  • Differences in the total basal area between the logged and unlogged forests resulted from tree size not tree density which was similar in both forests; no trees greater than 90cm d.b.h. were found within the logged transects while trees up to 180cm d.b.h. were found within the unlogged transects.
  • The results suggest that the above-ground biomass and carbon pools of the logged forest have been reduced by 40%, even 22 years after logging occurred. 
  • The authors note that the differences in forest structure between the logged and unlogged forests are significant, while also stressing that their results are most likely conservative given that the selectively logged area of study has only been logged once whereas many areas have been logged at least twice. 

Geographical Region

  • Insular Southeast Asia
  • Ecosystems

  • Tropical Wet Forest
  • Country

  • Malaysia
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