Can oil palm plantations be made more hospitable for forest butterflies and birds?

  • Published source details Koh L.P. (2008) Can oil palm plantations be made more hospitable for forest butterflies and birds?. Journal of Applied Ecology, 45, 1002-1009.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Increase or maintain the proportion of natural or semi‐natural habitat in the farmed landscape

Action Link
Butterfly and Moth Conservation
  1. Increase or maintain the proportion of natural or semi‐natural habitat in the farmed landscape

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2006–2007 in 15 sites of oil palm plantation in East Sabah, Malaysia (Koh 2008) found higher butterfly species in areas where the ground coverage of weeds had been maintained, but no effect of maintaining epiphytes or ferns. Sites with a higher percentage of ground cover of weeds had higher butterfly species richness. However, the number of nearby trees with high epiphyte growth, and the percentage ground coverage of ferns, had no effect on species richness. Additionally, there was higher butterfly species richness in sites where a higher proportion of old growth forest within the surrounding 1 km radius had been maintained. All results are presented as statistical tests. In September–October 2006 and March–April 2007, butterflies were counted along 100 m transects in 15 plantations. There were 3–10 transects at each site and each was surveyed 1–3 times over the entire sampling period. Only butterfly species known to occur in Malaysian primary forest were included in analyses, and Hesperiidae and Lycaenidae were excluded because of identification difficulties. Varying proportions of weeds, epiphytes and ferns had previously been removed at each site by plantation workers (the removal was not part of the study and removal details are not included). At the start and end of transects researchers counted the proportion of the nearest 10 palm trees with >50% epiphyte coverage, and the percentage of ground covered by ferns and weeds.

    (Summarised by: Eleanor Bladon)

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