Ecosystem Loss and Fragmentation

Ecosystem loss and fragmentation may be the greatest global threat to biodiversity. Loss and fragmentation—the isolation of habitats—are related and usually occur in conjunction. These processes are issues facing all environments, both terrestrial and aquatic, albeit in different ways. Fragmentation can occur due to natural causes but is increasing dramatically due to human activity. Consequences include decreased habitat size, negative edge effects and isolation of sub-populations. Managers must now add fragmentation to the list of potential issues when considering conservation plans. This module's exercise has two goals: 1) to explore, through a mapping exercise, what happens to a forested landscape as it undergoes the fragmentation process, and 2) to predict what will happen to the biota residing within the landscape as a result of these changes. The fundamental question addressed is: Can landscapes be fragmented in such a way that permits humans and biological diversity to coexist?

View this module in other languages:
Perte et Fragmentation des Ecosystèmes (French)
Pérdida y Fragmentación de Ecosistemas (Spanish)

Featured in: Biodiversity Basics

See also:
Threats to Biodiversity: An Overview

Theme: Ecology for Conservation

Language: English

Region: Global

Keywords: fragmentation, modeling, planning, threats

Components: 6

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Synthesis: Ecosystem Loss and Fragmentation

Author: M.F. Laverty, J.P. Gibbs

   

Ecosystem loss and fragmentation is considered by many to be the leading threat to biodiversity around the world. This module provides an introduction to this large and complex topic. It examines habitat loss by biome around the globe. The causes and effects of fragmentation, as well as conservation management tools for fragmented landscapes are discussed.


explore

Recommended Resource: Habitat fragmentation and its lasting impact on Earth’s ecosystems

Date created: March 20, 2015

Source: N. Haddad et al. 2015. Science Advances: 1, e1500052.

This article provides real data from several experiments across the globe to illustrate the severe impact that ecosystem fragmentation has on biodiversity loss and ecosystem functioning.


practice

Exercise: Ecosystem Loss and Fragmentation - Forest Fragmentation Mapping Exercise

Author: J.P. Gibbs

   

This exercise has two goals: 1) to permit students to explore through a mapping exercise what happens to a forested landscape as it undergoes the fragmentation process; and 2) to let them predict what will happen to the biota residing within the landscape as a result of these changes. The fundamental question addressed is: Can landscapes be fragmented in such a way that permits humans and biological diversity to coexist?


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Presentation: Ecosystem Loss and Fragmentation

Author: J.P. Gibbs, M.F. Laverty, L. Murphy, G. Cullman

Teaching Notes: Ecosystem Loss and Fragmentation

Author: J.P. Gibbs, M.F. Laverty, L. Murphy, G. Cullman

Solutions: Ecosystem Loss and Fragmentation - Forest Fragmentation Mapping Exercise

Author: J.P. Gibbs


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