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?
Featured in: Biodiversity Basics
Threats to Biodiversity: An Overview