Habitat Fragmentation Effects Depend on Complex Interactions Between Population Size and Dispersal Ability: Modeling Influences of Roads, Agriculture and Residential Development Across a Range of Life-History Characteristics

  • Samuel A. Cushman
  • Bradley W. Compton
  • Kevin McGarigal


Habitat loss and fragmentation are widely believed to be the most important drivers of extinction (Leakey and Lewin 1995). The habitats in which organisms live are spatially structured at a number of scales, and these patterns interact with organism perception and behavior to drive population dynamics and community structure (Johnson et al. 1992). Anthropogenic habitat loss and fragmentation disrupts these patterns and is expected to have large, negative effects on biodiversity (Flather and Bevers 2002; Haila 2002; Fahrig 2003). The majority of theoretical studies suggest that the effect of habitat fragmentation is weak relative to the effect of habitat loss (Fahrig 1997; Henein et al. 1998; Collingham and Huntley 2000; Flather and Bevers 2002; Fahrig 2003), although some studies have predicted larger fragmentation effects (Boswell et al. 1998; Burkey 1999; Hill and Caswell 1999; Urban and Keitt 2001). In addition, some theoretical studies suggest that the effects of fragmentation per se should become apparent only at low levels of habitat amount, for example below approximately 20–30% of the landscape (Fahrig 1998; Flather and Bevers 2002), although there is little empirical evidence available to test this prediction (Fahrig 2003).


Correlation Length Habitat Loss Habitat Fragmentation Dispersal Ability Vernal Pool 
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Copyright information

© Springer 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samuel A. Cushman
    • 1
  • Bradley W. Compton
    • Kevin McGarigal
      • 1
    1. 1.Department of Natural Resources ConservationUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA

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