Habitat Corridors Promote Conservation

Science  01 Jul 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5731, pp. 15k
DOI: 10.1126/science.309.5731.15k

As wildlife habitats become more fragmented by human land use, wild plants and animals encounter increasing difficulties in dispersal between patches of suitable habitat. If the patches are small, then local extinctions may ensue. To mitigate this problem, conservationists favor networks of corridors to provide links between patches, but how effective is this approach? In a replicated, landscape-scale study of the role of habitat corridors in the southern United States, Levey et al. (p. 146; see the news story by Stokstad) followed Eastern Bluebirds as they carried native wax myrtle seeds from bushes in a central source patch to one of four surrounding receiver patches in a matrix of mature pine forest. The birds carried substantially more seeds to the corridor-connected patches than they did to the others. The authors were able to build a predictive seed-dispersal model at the landscape scale from individual-based observations on the movements of birds.

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