Reflections on Landscape Experiments and Ecological Theory: Tools for the Study of Habitat Fragmentation

  • R. D. Holt
  • D. M. Debinski
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 162)


Habitat destruction and fragmentation are widely recognized as some of the most serious aspects of global change (Saunders et al. 1991; Fahrig and Merriam 1994). Dealing with the far-flung consequences of habitat fragmentation mandates the fusion of a wide range of scientific perspectives. In the study of habitat fragmentation, as with any scientific endeavor, there are three basic tools: (1) observation and correlation; (2) theory and modeling; (3) experimental manipulation. In recent decades, a huge amount of literature on habitat fragmentation has been generated (e.g., Andren 1994; Leach and Givnish 1996; Laurance and Bierregaard 1997). There are hundreds of descriptive studies of fragmentation (e.g., Blake 1991; Aizen and Feinsinger 1994; Hanski et al. 1995) and a large and growing body of relevant theory (e.g., Hess 1996; Wahlberg et al. 1996). Yet, to date, there are barely over a score of fragmentation experiments, past and present, across all biomes worldwide (Margules 1996; Debinski and Holt 2000). Many experiments are quite recent in their initiation, with publications just starting to appear. In contrast to other areas of ecology, such as interspecific interactions like predation and competition (e.g., Hairston 1989), it seems fair to say that our understanding of habitat fragmentation has developed largely apart from the standard scientific method of experimentation. Indeed, authoritative syntheses of ecological experimentation barely even mention habitat fragmentation (Scheiner and Gurevitch 1993; Underwood 1997).


Small Mammal Patch Size Habitat Fragmentation Fragmented Landscape Ecological Theory 
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  • R. D. Holt
  • D. M. Debinski

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