Phylogenetic age is positively correlated with sensitivity to timber harvest in Bornean mammals

Erik Meijaard*, Douglas Sheil, Andrew J. Marshall, Robert Nasi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


The reasons that forest vertebrates differ in their response to selective timber extraction in tropical forests remain poorly characterized. Understanding what determines response and sensitivity can indicate how forest management might yield greater conservation benefits, and help us identify which lesser-known species may be especially vulnerable. We assessed the response of 41 Bornean mammals to selective timber harvest and tested eight hypotheses regarding the correlation between those responses and a range of species characteristics. Multivariate analyses show that phylogenetic species age is a key variable determining sensitivity. Older species are less able to cope with the effects of selective timber harvest. Most of these species are endemic to insular southeast Asia, and do not occur on the Asian mainland. These species are more specialized, and appear less able to cope with habitat change. In contrast, species tolerant to logging evolved more recently. This group tends to be omnivorous or herbivorous, to use all vegetation strata, and to be regionally widespread. This finding allows the sensitivity to habitat disturbance of lesser-known species to be predicted, and therefore has important conservation implications. These new insights also help in the design of large-scale forest landscapes that combine sustainable forest management and species conservation requirements. We recognize that these functions can be compatible, but that some species still need completely protected areas for their survival.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-85
Number of pages10
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Borneo
  • Conservation
  • Dipterocarp forest
  • Evolution
  • Forestry
  • Logging
  • Palaeoenvironment
  • Southeast Asia

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