Landscape Ecology

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 609–623 | Cite as

Spatial and temporal variability of fragmentation effects in a long term, eucalypt forest fragmentation experiment

  • Andrew J. King
  • Brett A. Melbourne
  • Kendi F. Davies
  • A. O. Nicholls
  • Mike P. Austin
  • Kika T. Tuff
  • Maldwyn J. Evans
  • Chris M. Hardy
  • Saul A. Cunningham
Research Article



Although forest fragmentation is generally thought to impact tree growth and mortality negatively, recent work suggests some forests are resilient. Experimental forests provide an opportunity to examine the timing and extent of forest tree resilience to disturbance from fragmentation.


We used the Wog Wog Habitat Fragmentation Experiment in southeastern Australia to test Eucalyptus growth and survivorship responses to forest fragmentation over a 26 year period.


We measured 2418 tree diameters and used spline-regression techniques to examine non-monotonic fragmentation effect over two time periods.


Over the first 4 years after fragmentation, individual eucalypt tree growth was greater than in continuous forest for large trees and mortality rates were higher only within 10 m of edges. Over the following 22 years only the effects on tree growth remained and on average all fragments rebounded so that their biomass and mortality rates were equivalent to continuous forest. Importantly non-monotonic patterns were observed in growth and mortality with respect to area and distance from edge in both study periods, demonstrating that fragmentation impacts on trees can be strong in localized areas (greatest in 3 ha fragments and 0–30 m edges) and over short time periods.


Dry-sclerophyll eucalypt forests join the set of forest types that display resilient growth dynamics post fragmentation. Moreover, persistent non-monotonic impacts on tree growth with respect to tree size, fragment area, and fragment distance from edge, highlighting landscape fragmentation as a driver of habitat heterogeneity within remnant forest fragments.


Fragmentation experiment Tree growth Eucalyptus Pine plantation 



The authors would like to thank Amanda King for assistance with the 2013 survey and JS and ST for conducting the 1987 and 1991 surveys. This work was funded by the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation, and a National Science Foundation grant DEB 0841892 to KD and BM.

Supplementary material

10980_2018_623_MOESM1_ESM.docx (624 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 624 kb)
10980_2018_623_MOESM2_ESM.docx (33 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 33 kb)


  1. Austin MP, Nicholls AO (1988) Species associations within herbaceous vegetation in an Australian eucalypt forest. In: During HJ et al (eds) Diversity and pattern in plant communities. SPB Academic Publishing, The Hague, pp 95–114Google Scholar
  2. Bi H, Turner J, Lambert MJ (2004) Additive biomass equations for native eucalypt forest trees of temperate Australia. Trees 18(4):467–479CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Collinge SK (2009) Ecology of fragmented landscapes. The Johns Hopkins University Press, BaltimoreGoogle Scholar
  4. Davies KF, Melbourne BA, Margules CR (2001) Effects of within-and between-patch processes on community dynamics in a fragmentation experiment. Ecology 82(7):1830–1846CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Denyer K, Burns B, Ogden J (2006) Buffering of native forest edge microclimate by adjoining tree plantations. Austral Ecol 31(4):478–489CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Evans MJ, Banks SC, Driscoll DA, Hicks AJ, Melbourne BA, Davies KF (2017) Short-and long-term effects of habitat fragmentation differ but are predicted by response to the matrix. Ecology 98(3):807–819CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Ewers RM, Didham RK (2006) Continuous response functions for quantifying the strength of edge effects. J Appl Ecol 43:527–536CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ewers RM, Thorpe S, Didham RK (2007) Synergistic interactions between edge and area effects in a heavily fragmented landscape. Ecology 88(1):96–106CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Fanning D, Fatchen TJ (1990) The upper Wog Wog River catchment of Coolangubra and Nalbaugh State Forest (Mines Road Area), New South Wales: a fauna and flora survey. Forestry Commission of New South Wales, AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  10. Farmilo BJ, Nimmo DG, Morgan JW (2013) Pine plantations modify local conditions in forest fragments in southeastern Australia: insights from a fragmentation experiment. For Ecol Manag 305:264–272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ferrere P, Lupi AM, Boca R, Nakama V, Alfieri A (2008) Biomasa en plantaciones de Eucalyptus viminalis Labill. de la provincial de Buenos Aires, Argentina. Ciência Florestal 18(3):291–305CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gill AM (1975) Fire and the Australian flora: a review. Aust For 38:4–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Godefroid S, Rucquoij S, Koedam N (2006) Spatial variability of summer microclimates and plant species response along transects within clearcuts in a beech forest. Plant Ecol 185:107–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Haddad NM, Brudvig LA, Clobert J, Davies KF, Gonzalez A, Holt RD, Cook WM (2015) Habitat fragmentation and its lasting impact on Earth’s ecosystems. Sci Adv 1(2):e1500052CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Harper KA, Macdonald SE, Burton PJ, Chen J, Brosofske KD, Saunders SC, Esseen PA (2005) Edge influence on forest structure and composition in fragmented landscapes. Conserv Biol 19(3):768–782CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ibáñez I, Katz DS, Peltier D, Wolf SM, Barrie C, Benjamin T (2014) Assessing the integrated effects of landscape fragmentation on plants and plant communities: the challenge of multiprocess–multiresponse dynamics. J Ecol 102(4):882–895CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jönsson MT, Fraver S, Jonsson BG, Dynesius M, Rydgård M, Esseen PA (2007) Eighteen years of tree mortality and structural change in an experimentally fragmented Norway spruce forest. For Ecol Manag 242(2–3):306–313CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kupfer JA, Malanson GP, Franklin SB (2006) Not seeing the ocean for the islands: the mediating influence of matrix-based processes on forest fragmentation effects. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 15(1):8–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Laurance WF, Camargo JL, Luizão RC, Laurance SG, Pimm SL, Bruna EM, Van Houtan KS (2011) The fate of Amazonian forest fragments: a 32-year investigation. Biol Conserv 144(1):56–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Laurance WF, Delamônica P, Laurance SG, Vasconcelos HL, Lovejoy TE (2000) Conservation: rainforest fragmentation kills big trees. Nature 404(6780):836CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Laurance WF, Nascimento HE, Laurance SG, Andrade AC, Fearnside PM, Ribeiro JE, Capretz RL (2006) Rain forest fragmentation and the proliferation of successional trees. Ecology 87(2):469–482CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Laurance WF, Nascimento HE, Laurance SG, Andrade A, Ewers RM, Harms KE, Ribeiro JE (2007) Habitat fragmentation, variable edge effects, and the landscape-divergence hypothesis. PLoS ONE 2(10):e1017CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Lewis F, Butler A, Gilbert L (2011) A unified approach to model selection using the likelihood ratio test. Methods Ecol Evol 2(2):155–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Malcom JR (1994) Edge effects in central Amazonian forest fragments. Ecology 75:2438–2445CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Margules CR (1992) The Wog Wog habitat fragmentation experiment. Environ Conserv 19:316–325CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Matlack GR (1994) Vegetation dynamics of the forest edge—trends in space and successional time. J Ecol 82:113–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Meiners SJ, Pickett STA, Handel SN (2002) Probability of tree seedling establishment changes across a forest-old field edge gradient. Am J Bot 89:466–471CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Mesquita RC, Delamônica P, Laurance WF (1999) Effect of surrounding vegetation on edge-related tree mortality in Amazonian forest fragments. Biol Conserv 91(2–3):129–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Morgan JW, Farmilo BJ (2012) Community (re)organization in an experimentally fragmented forest landscape: insights from occupancy-scale patterns of common plant species. J Veg Sci 21:962–969CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Murcia C (1995) Edge effects in fragmented forests: implications for conservation. Trends in Ecol Evol 10:58–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Neves FS, Queiroz-Dantas KS, Da Rocha WD, Delabie JHC (2013) Ants of three adjacent habitats of a transition region between the cerrado and caatinga biomes: the effects of heterogeneity and variation in canopy cover. Neotrop Entomol 42(3):258–268CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Oliver T, Roy DB, Hill JK, Brereton T, Thomas CD (2010) Heterogeneous landscapes promote population stability. Ecol Lett 13(4):473–484CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Palik BJ, Murphy PG (1990) Disturbance versus edge effects in sugar-maple/beech forest fragments. For Ecol Manag 21:187–202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Phillips OL, Rose S, Mendoza AM, Vargas PN (2006) Resilience of southwestern Amazon forests to anthropogenic edge effects. Conserv Biol 20(6):1698–1710CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. R Core Team (2013) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing.
  36. Raich J (1998) Aboveground productivity and soil respiration in three Hawaiian rain forests. For Ecol Manag 107:309–318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Reinmann AB, Hutyra LR (2017) Edge effects enhance carbon uptake and its vulnerability to climate change in temperate broadleaf forests. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 114:107–112CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Sampaio AB, Scariot A (2011) Edge effect on tree diversity, composition and structure in a deciduous dry forest in Central Brazil. Revista Árvore 35:1121–1134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Stewart HTL, Flinn DW, Aeberli BC (1979) Above-ground biomass of a mixed eucalypt forest in eastern Victoria. Austral J Bot 27(6):725–740CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Westfall JA, Patterson PL (2007) Measurement variability error for estimates of volume change. Can J For Res 37:2201–2210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Wood SN (2003) Thin-plate regression splines. J Roy Stat Soc B 65:95–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Young A, Mitchell N (1994) Microclimate and vegetation edge effects in a fragmented podocarp-broadleaf forest in New Zealand. Biol Conserv 67:63–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Crown 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew J. King
    • 1
  • Brett A. Melbourne
    • 2
  • Kendi F. Davies
    • 2
  • A. O. Nicholls
    • 3
  • Mike P. Austin
    • 3
  • Kika T. Tuff
    • 2
  • Maldwyn J. Evans
    • 4
  • Chris M. Hardy
    • 3
  • Saul A. Cunningham
    • 4
  1. 1.King Ecological ConsultingKnoxvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  3. 3.CSIRO Ecosystem SciencesBlack MountainActonAustralia
  4. 4.Fenner School of Environment and SocietyAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

Personalised recommendations