Diverse and Contrasting Effects of Habitat Fragmentation

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Science  24 Jul 1992:
Vol. 257, Issue 5069, pp. 524-526
DOI: 10.1126/science.257.5069.524


Different components of an ecosystem can respond in very different ways to habitat fragmentation. An archipelago of patches, representing different levels of fragmentation, was arrayed within a successional field and studied over a period of 6 years. Ecosystem processes (soil mineralization and plant succession) did not vary with the degree of subdivision, nor did most measures of plant and animal community diversity. However, fragmentation affected vertebrate population dynamics and distributional patterns as well as the population persistence of clonal plant species. The results highlight the dangers of relying on broad community measures in lieu of detailed population analyses in studies of fragmented habitats.

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