The Nature of Fragmentation

  • Laura K. Marsh

Abstract

The numbers are staggering and grotesque. They are the opening factoids for every paper where research in tropical forest is conducted. Tropical forests are disappearing faster than any other biome (Myers, 1991). Tropical forests once covered up to 15% of the earth’s surface and currently cover only 6% to 7%, but contain more than 50% and possibly as much as 90% of all species of plants and animals (WRI, 1990). Rain forests are being systematically reduced by 150,000 km2 (10 to 15 million ha) per year (Whitmore, 1997; Achard et al., 2002), which is more than a full percentage point (1.2%, Laurance, 1997). Assuming this rate maintains, the last rain forest tree will fall in 2027. Many of us will witness this within our lifetimes. Additionally (to make matters worse), only 3% to 7% of the world’s land area is officially protected as national parks or forest reserves (Chapman and Peres, 2001). The travesty of rampant deforestation will have profound effects, not simply on forests and their inhabitants, but for all humanity. Thus, the resulting fragmented patchwork of habitat and the species remaining within become central to the challenge of conservation.

Keywords

Tropical Forest Forest Patch Forest Fragment Home Range Size Forest Fragmentation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura K. Marsh
    • 1
  1. 1.Los Alamos National LaboratoryEcology Group (RRES-ECO)Los AlamosUSA

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