The role of ants, birds and bats for ecosystem functions and yield in oil palm plantations

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


One of the world's most important and rapidly expanding crops, oil palm, is associated with low levels of biodiversity. Changes in predator communities might alter ecosystem services and subsequently sustainable management but these links have received little attention to date. Here, for the first time, we manipulated ant and flying vertebrate (birds and bats) access to oil palms in six smallholder plantations in Sumatra (Indonesia) and measured effects on arthropod communities, related ecosystem functions (herbivory, predation, decomposition and pollination) and crop yield. Arthropod predators increased in response to reductions in ant and bird access, but the overall effect of experimental manipulations on ecosystem functions was minimal. Similarly, effects on yield were not significant. We conclude that ecosystem functions and productivity in oil palm are, under current levels of low pest pressure and large pollinator populations, robust to large reductions of major predators.


  • Lisa H. Denmead
  • Kevin Darras
  • Yann Clough
  • Patrick Diaz
  • Ingo Grass
  • Munir P. Hoffmann
  • Fuad Nurdiansyah
  • Rico Fardiansah
  • Teja Tscharntke
External organisations
  • University of Göttingen
  • Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology
  • Jambi University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
  • Ecology


  • biodiversity, crop yield, decomposition, ecosystem services, exclosure, exclusion experiment, herbivory, pollination, predation, predators
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1945-1956
Number of pages12
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jul 1
Publication categoryResearch