Avifauna recovers faster in areas less accessible to trapping in regenerating tropical forests

Sagara Sathya Chandra Sagar*, James Gilroy, Tom Swinfield, Zuzana Buřivalová, Ding Li Yong, Elva Gemita, Novriyanti Novriyanti, David Lee, Muhammad Nazri Janra, Andrew Balmford, Fangyuan Hua

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Tropical forest restoration stands to deliver important conservation gains, particularly in lowland Southeast Asia, which has suffered some of the world’s highest rates of forest loss and degradation. This promise, however, depends on the extent to which biodiversity at forest restoration sites continues to be exposed to threats. A key knowledge gap concerns the extent to which biodiversity recovery in naturally regenerating tropical forests is impacted by trapping for the multi-million-dollar wildlife trade. Here, we use a repeated survey dataset to quantify rates of avian community recovery under forest regeneration, at a flagship restoration site in the lowland rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia. We show that over a decade, forest regeneration was associated with significant abundance increases for 43.8% of bird species. However, the apparent negative impacts of trade-driven trapping on avian populations also intensified: the proportion of species that show increased abundance only in very remote forests increased from 5.4% to 16.2%, while the overall accessibility of the forest increased. We found that 14% of species did not recover as fast as predicted based on the observed improvement in forest conditions over the study period. We found trapping to disproportionately impact targeted species: compared to opportunistically trapped species, twice the number of targeted species (27% of species) showed increased abundance only in very remote forests. Our results highlight the potential for rapid avifaunal recovery in regenerating tropical forests, but also emphasize the urgency of tackling the serious threat of wildlife trade to Southeast Asia’s biodiversity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number109901
Number of pages11
JournalBiological Conservation
Early online date19 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2023


  • Birds
  • Conservation
  • Ecosystem restoration
  • Nature-based climate solutions
  • Pet trade
  • Reforestation


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