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Why is habitat fragmentation a problem

Page history last edited by bgriesen@... 16 years, 1 month ago

Habitat fragmentation can threaten species survial for a plethora of reasons.  Some include:



A reduction of the total habitat area.  As the hatitat is shrinking into smaller and smaller pieces, less habitat becomes available for a species.  The amount of habitat there is is directly proportional to the number of populations in that habitat.



Being vulnerable while being dispersed to other patches.  As the habitat becomes more and more fragmented into smaller and smaller patches, they become seperated from one another, usually by land that can't support much life.  Any animal that trys to cross to another patch of habitat becomes easy prey for predators, deals with bad environmental conditions, or die of starvation.  An example, salamanders may respond to a drying pond or to overpopulated environment by moving on to a new pond. As the amphibian moves across an open field, pavement, or a forest floor in search of a new patch of habitat, it runs the risk of being eaten, starvation, or dying in an unsuitable environment. Conditions worsen as fragmentation progresses.


Population isolation.  Populations become isolated within their patch of habitat as other parts are destroyed.  Migration to different patches becomes difficult and hazardous.  Populations decline due to interbreeding, overuse of their habitat, and removal from the patch.



Edge effects: As habitat becomes fragmented into smaller patches, more of the habitat will end up adjacent to a different type of habitat. Land that is deep in the middle of a forest is different than land that is at the edge of a forest- more light penetrates, and there is a different collection of species that prefer the edge of a forest to the core of a forest.



Edge effects- changes in microclimate. Many habitats have such an impact on the physical environment that they can create their own microclimate. For example, dense forests tend to be shadier, more humid, and less windy than adjacent unforested land. This pattern becomes more pronounced the farther you go away from the edge of the forest. If a patch of forest becomes small enough, then you will always be near the forest's edge. Some species require the solitude, deep shade and protection from wind that you can only find in the middle of a dense old-growth forest.



Edge effects-vulnerability to external competition and predation. If a prey species wanders too close to the edge of their protective habitat, they can be quickly captured and eaten. Other species may be excellent competitors deep within their own specialized habitat, but are less successful against species found at the edge of their habitat that take advantage of the wide variety of conditions found between two dissimilar habitats.

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