Sonderforschungsbereich 990: Ökologische und sozioökonomische Funktionen tropischer Tieflandregenwald-Transformationssysteme (Sumatra, Indonesien)

B11 - Biodiversity enrichment experiment in oil palm plantations (EFForTS-BEE)

The transformation of natural rainforest into large-scale mono-cultural oil palm plantations has led to dramatic losses in biodiversity and in ecological functioning. To alleviate negative ecological impacts in existing plantations, designer plantation landscapes have been proposed, in which agroforestry zones are considered to have a positive impact on biodiversity. However, there is no experience with or evaluation of such systems mixing native trees with oil palms. To fill this gap, we established a long-term biodiversity enrichment experiment by planting tree islands in an oil palm landscape in December 2013.

The experiment is located in Jambi Province, Sumatra, Indonesia (See EFForTS project map).

We planted six native multi-purpose tree species that are grown mainly for fruits, wood and natural latex.

B11 tree species
Three main questions are investigated: (1) Are gap enrichment plantings a suitable measure for biodiversity enrichment in oil palm plantations? (2) Do tree islands act as nuclei for colonization of flora and fauna? (3) What are the socio-economic and ecological trade-offs?

The experimental design consists of four partition series (diversity levels of six, three, two, one and zero tree species) resulting in a total of 52 tree islands. The experiment comprises four blocks with different island sizes (5 x 5 m, 10 x 10 m, 20 x 20 m, 40 x 40 m). In each block, the 13 islands of one partition series are randomly distributed.

B11 scheme

As the experiment is now well established, interdisciplinary studies from 14 sub-projects from EFFoRTS contribute to monitor (a) the environment (soil, micro-climate, surrounding matrix), (b) plants (tree survival and growth, plant water stress, understory vegetation, seed and pollen rain, recruitment limitations, vegetation structural complexity), (c) animals (bird, bats and invertebrates community), (d) micro-organisms (prokaryotes and fungi) and (d) socio-economics (oil-palm yields, benefits from the planted trees, incentive for enrichment planting).
Based on such comprehensive ecological and socio-economic studies, the enrichment planting experiment will evaluate the effectiveness of proposed designer plantation landscapes, and aims at contributing to the development of ecologically improved management concepts in oil palm landscapes.

Visit the Efforts-BEE webpage in TreeDivNet:

Available topics for Bachelor or Master theses:
Understorey vegetation: diversity and composition of plant communities
Soil processes: physicochemical properties and water infiltration capacity
Tree damage: Rust infection and herbivory on oil palm and tree leaves
Seed dispersal: mechanisms and spatial extent of invasive/native plants dispersal
Carbon storage: above- and below-ground biomass, soil bulk density, leaf litter and dead wood
Micro-climate: air and soil temperature spatio-temporal heterogeneity in relation to vegetation structure
Socio-economic: oil palm yield, flowering rates and opportunity costs
Canopy interactions: tree structure in local neighborhoods from terrestrial laser scanner data (no field work requested)
Ecosystem resilience: effect of inter-annual and seasonal droughts on tree growth and mortality (no field work requested)

Interested students from any related topics are encouraged to contact us via email