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Resilience of tropical, freshwater fish (Nematabramis everetti) populations to severe drought over a land-use gradient in Borneo

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Title: Resilience of tropical, freshwater fish (Nematabramis everetti) populations to severe drought over a land-use gradient in Borneo
Authors: Wilkinson, CL
Yeo, DCJ
Tan, HH
Hadi Fikri, A
Ewers, RM
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Biodiversity-rich forests in tropical Southeast Asia are being extensively logged and converted to oil-palm monocultures. In addition, extreme climatic events such as droughts are becoming more common. Land-use change and extreme climatic events are thought to have synergistic impacts on aquatic biodiversity, but few studies have directly tested this. A severe El Niño drought in Southeast Asia in early 2016 caused 16 low-order hill streams across a land-use gradient encompassing primary forest, logged forest and oil palm plantations in Sabah, Malaysia, to dry up into series of disconnected pools. The resulting disturbance (specifically, increased water temperature and decreased dissolved oxygen concentration) tolerated by the fish during the drought exceeded any worst-case scenario for climate change-induced warming. We quantified the biomass, density and movement of the dominant freshwater fish species, Nematabramis everetti (Cyprinidae), in these streams across this land-use gradient before, during, and after the 2016 El Niño drought period. Density of N. everetti was significantly lower in logged forest streams than primary forest or oil palm streams, and the biomass of individuals captured was lower during drought than prior to the drought; however, there was no change in the biomass density of individuals during drought. The distance moved by N. everetti was significantly lower during and after the drought compared to before the drought. We detected a significant antagonistic interaction on biomass of captured fish, with the magnitude of the drought impact reduced according to land-use. Populations of N. everetti were surprisingly resilient to drought and seem most affected instead by land-use. Despite this resilience, it is important to monitor how this widespread and abundant species, which provides an important ecosystem service to local human communities, is affected by future land-use and climate change, as logging, deforestation and conversion to plantation monocultures continue across Southeast Asia.
Issue Date: 2-Apr-2019
Date of Acceptance: 23-Jan-2019
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/67226
DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/ab0128
ISSN: 1748-9326
Publisher: Institute of Physics (IoP)
Journal / Book Title: Environmental Research Letters
Volume: 14
Issue: 4
Copyright Statement: © 2018 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd. This article has been published on a gold open access basis under a CC BY 3.0 licence. Everyone is permitted to use all or part of the original content in this article, provided that they adhere to all the terms of the licence (https://creativecommons.org/licences/by/3.0).
Sponsor/Funder: Rainforest Research Sdn Bhd
Funder's Grant Number: LBEE_P34395
Keywords: Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Physical Sciences
Environmental Sciences
Meteorology & Atmospheric Sciences
Environmental Sciences & Ecology
El Nino drought
freshwater fish
oil palm
logged forest
antagonistic interaction
Meteorology & Atmospheric Sciences
Publication Status: Published
Article Number: 045008
Online Publication Date: 2019-01-23
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Natural Sciences