PerspectiveEcology

Dammed Experiments!

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Science  30 Nov 2001:
Vol. 294, Issue 5548, pp. 1847-1848
DOI: 10.1126/science.1067012

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Summary

What happens to the animals and plants in a habitat when that habitat becomes fragmented? As Diamond explains in a Perspective, part of the answer comes from an unplanned experiment in Venezuela resulting from the formation of Lake Guri after dam construction ( Terborgh et al.). The different-sized islands formed by damming demonstrate that habitat fragmentation results in loss of large predators first, leading to an explosion in the numbers of herbivores and a drastic reduction in palatable plant species.