Ruth Nussbaum co-edits issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B
Rainforests are vanishing worldwide and their protection is a pressing issue. This special issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, the oldest scientific journal in the English-speaking world, outlines how human influences may shape the future of rainforests. Although the research is relevant globally, the focus lies on the island of Borneo, as most of the papers are based on research carried out as part of the Royal Society South East Asia Rainforest Research Programme (SEARPP) based at Danum Valley in Sabah.
Some of the key issues which the papers in this special issue highlight are that:
- conversion from forest to oil palm plantation can have dramatic effects on atmospheric chemistry and hydrology;
- not only the size of the remaining forest fragments matter, but also the distance between them, due to dispersal abilities of different species;
- there is a threat to the persistence and recovery of selectively-logged forests, because there is a lower seed production and a higher seed predation than in primary forest sites.
One of the papers in the issue asks if and how oil palm plantations can be made more biodiversity friendly. Two other contributions introduce some of the largest ecological field experiments ever attempted in the tropics: the Sabah Biodiversity Experiment and the Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems (SAFE) project.
Ruth compiled and edited the issue together with professor Andy Hector and Maja Weilenmann from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies of the University of Zurich, professor David Fowler from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Edinburgh, and professor Rory Walsh from Swansea University’s department of Geography.