Research ArticleAPPLIED ECOLOGY

Habitat fragmentation and its lasting impact on Earth’s ecosystems

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Science Advances  20 Mar 2015:
Vol. 1, no. 2, e1500052
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500052
  • Fig. 1 The global magnitude of forest fragmentation.

    (A) Mean distance to forest edge for forested pixels within each 1-km cell. Lines point to locations of ongoing fragmentation experiments identified and described in Fig. 2. (B) Proportion of the world’s forest at each distance to the forest edge and the cumulative proportion across increasing distance categories (green line). (C and E) In the Brazilian Amazon (C) and Atlantic Forests (E), the proportion of forest area at each distance to forest edge for both the current and estimated historic extent of forest. (D and F) In the Brazilian Amazon (D) and Atlantic Forests (F), the number of fragments and the total area of fragments of that size. The total number of fragments in the smallest bin (1 to 10 ha) is an underestimate in both the Atlantic Forest and Amazon data sets because not all of the very smallest fragments are mapped.

  • Fig. 2 The world’s ongoing fragmentation experiments.

    All experiments have been running continuously since the time indicated by the start of the associated arrow (with the exception of the moss fragmentation experiment, which represents a series of studies over nearly two decades). The variables under study in each experiment are checked. The area is that of the experiment’s largest fragments. Icons under “Fragment” and “Matrix” indicate the dominant community and its relative height, with multiple trees representing succession.

  • Fig. 3 Fragmentation effects propagate through the whole ecosystem.

    (A to C) For each fragmentation treatment [reduced area in BDFFP, Wog Wog, Kansas (A); increased isolation in SRS and Moss (B); and increased edge in all experiments (C)], we summarize major findings for ecological processes at all levels of ecological organization. Each dot represents the mean effect size [computed as log response ratio: ln(mean in more fragmented treatment/mean in non- or less-fragmented treatment)] for an ecological process. Effect sizes are statistical, such that negative or positive values could represent degrading function. Horizontal bars are the range when a dot is represented by more than one study. Details, including individual effect sizes for each study, are reported in table S1.

  • Fig. 4 Delayed effects of fragmentation on ecosystem degradation.

    (A) The extinction debt represents a delayed loss of species due to fragmentation. (B) The immigration lag represents differences in species richness caused by smaller fragment area or increased isolation during fragment succession. (C) The ecosystem function debt represents delayed changes in ecosystem function due to reduced fragment size or increased isolation. Percent loss is calculated as proportional change in fragmented treatments [for example, (no. of species in fragment − no. of species in control)/(no. of species in control) × 100]. Fragments and controls were either the same area before and after fragmentation, fragments compared to unfragmented controls, or small compared to large fragments. Filled symbols indicate times when fragmentation effects became significant, as determined by the original studies (see table S2). Mean slopes (dashed lines) were estimated using linear mixed (random slopes) models. Mean slope estimates (mean and SE) were as follows: (A) −0.22935 (0.07529); (B) −0.06519 (0.03495); (C) −0.38568 (0.16010).

Supplementary Materials

  • Supplementary material for this article is available at http://advances.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/1/2/e1500052/DC1

    Materials and Methods

    Fig. S1. Map of the BDFFP experiment and location within Brazil.

    Fig. S2. Map of the Kansas fragmentation experiment.

    Fig. S3. Map of the Wog Wog experiment and location within Australia.

    Fig. S4. Map of the SRS experiment showing locations of the eight blocks in the second SRS Corridor Experiment within the SRS, South Carolina, USA.

    Fig. S5. Design of the Moss experiment.

    Fig. S6. Design of the Metatron experiment with 48 enclosed fragments and adjoining enclosed corridors.

    Fig. S7. Map of the SAFE experiment and location within Borneo [after Ewers et al. (68)].

    Table S1. Metadata for Fig. 3 in the main text.

    Table S2. Metadata for Fig. 4 in the main text.

  • Supplementary Materials

    This PDF file includes:

    • Materials and Methods
    • Fig. S1. Map of the BDFFP experiment and location within Brazil.
    • Fig. S2. Map of the Kansas fragmentation experiment.
    • Fig. S3. Map of the Wog Wog experiment and location within Australia.
    • Fig. S4. Map of the SRS experiment showing locations of the eight blocks in the second SRS Corridor Experiment within the SRS, South Carolina, USA.
    • Fig. S5. Design of the Moss experiment.
    • Fig. S6. Design of the Metatron experiment with 48 enclosed fragments and adjoining enclosed corridors.
    • Fig. S7. Map of the SAFE experiment and location within Borneo after Ewers et al. (68).
    • Table S1. Metadata for Fig. 3 in the main text.
    • Table S2. Metadata for Fig. 4 in the main text.

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