Biodiversity and Residential Development Beyond the Urban Fringe



This chapter describes the impacts of rural exurban development on the abundance and variety of plants and animals in North American ecosystems. The principles of landscape ecology provide a framework for considering the ways that exurban development can impact biodiversity. We survey the literature and describe the responses of varying components of biodiversity to rural exurban development in North America. Results suggest that habitat loss and landscape fragmentation have relatively minor impacts on exurban biodiversity, except at the highest housing densities. In contrast, perforation edge effects and land-use changes are highly important in most cases. Positive perforation effects include the provision of resources such as water and shade that otherwise can be scarce in natural habitats. Negative perforation effects include competition, predation, and nest parasitism from household pets and other human commensal species and escapes of exotic vegetation from landscaped areas into adjacent natural ecosystems. The chapter concludes by suggesting ways in which planners and property owners can mitigate or avoid impacts on habitat and wildlife.


Landscape Fragmentation Housing Density Home Site Cattle Ranch Undeveloped Area 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of Colorado at BoulderBoulderUSA
  2. 2.E.E. Biology DepartmentUniversity of Colorado-BoulderBoulderUSA

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