Ecology of Fragmented Landscapes
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
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Imagine getting a beautiful multicolor, with-everything, chopped-up pizza for a special person. Suddenly, while crossing the campus, it slips out of your grasp— and you are left pondering the pieces. Though devastated, you happen to notice the overall pattern of fragments, plus their many sizes, shapes, color combinations, and spatial arrangements. That pizza and the pattern on the ground provide clues to the pages ahead. The big picture, like the view from...
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Dismantle is defined as to “disassemble” or “take apart.” When I originally conceived this book, I thought of the phrase “dismantling nature” because it seemed to aptly describe a fundamental process occurring around us. In our zest for transforming lands for human use, we have created fragmented landscapes in which many natural communities and ecosystems are effectively being taken...
1. Introduction: Framing the Issues
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My home town of Emporia, Kansas, sits almost at the geographic center of the contiguous United States and is also smack in the middle of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem of the North American Great Plains. When I was growing up, it seemed as though I was surrounded by acres and acres of grassy pastures, the flowering stalks of the grasses reaching well above my head in particularly wet...
2. Conceptual Frameworks
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Now that the motivations for studying the ecological consequences of habitat loss and fragmentation have been explained, it’s important to understand the conceptual frameworks that underlie this field of study. Several key ecological theories contribute to our understanding of the consequences of loss and fragmentation for individuals, populations, and communities. Chapter 1 noted that natural...
3. Fragment Size and Isolation
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Larger areas of land or water support more species than smaller areas, a point that has been made clear with repeated illustrations of species-area curves and is fundamental to our ecological understanding of the natural world. Yet despite the fact that this is old news, ecologists are still talking about this relationship and papers are still being published on this topic. Why? Probably because it is one of the...
4. Experimenting with Fragmentation
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Previous chapters extensively covered the theories that relate to habitat loss and fragmentation and considered ecological observations related to changes in patch size and isolation. As many of these early observations were appearing in the published literature, however, skepticism surfaced in the scientific community. Critics asked whether the observed ecological patterns represented the real responses...
5. Fragment Context and Edge Effects
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Many ecological studies of habitat loss and fragmentation have focused on how ecological patterns or processes are a
6. Animal and Plant Movement
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One of the most famous of Aesop’s fables relates the story of the tortoise and the hare. After having been teased relentlessly by the hare about his rather plodding gait, one day the slow tortoise challenges the swift hare to a race. Most readers probably know how the story turns out. Along the route, the hare snacks on cabbages...
7. Species Interactions
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Most research in fragmented landscapes has centered on species’ populations or aggregate measures of community composition. Explanations for observed responses to habitat loss and fragmentation have frequently considered pervasive microclimatic effects that occur at edges (chapter 5) or the random, demographic...
8. Parasites, Pathogens, and Disease Emergence
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In recent years, media coverage has startled readers with tales of outbreaks of mysterious maladies in humans, wild animals, trees, and agricultural crops— West Nile virus, Lyme disease, chronic wasting disease, amphibian limb deformities, sudden oak death, and soybean rust. Reports of the resurgence of more familiar human diseases—plague, rabies, and malaria—have appeared as well....
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Models can be somewhat intimidating to the uninitiated ecologist, because they often involve some complex mathematical equations. But a model in its simplest definition is just an abstraction of reality. We all know that a toy car is a model of a real car, but because children are not big enough to drive real cars, we give them less dangerous forms of vehicles that don’t have accelerators. And a map is a...
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A few years ago I had the good fortune to accompany the illustrious ecologist Dan Janzen on a field trip near his home in the tropical dry forests of Guanacaste, Costa Rica. As we drove toward Santa Rosa National Park through a landscape of scattered forest fragments and cattle pastures with the occasional solitary tree, Janzen spoke passionately about the rampant destruction of the dry...
11. Ecological Planning
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Landscapes are constantly changing. As is often the case with our own lives, some of those changes are carefully planned and some are unplanned. The designation of a new national park or a major suburban housing development is usually the result of thoughtful planning and decision-making over several years, with input from many stakeholders. But arsonous wildfires that burn out of control...
12. Some Final Thoughts
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Modern humans have extensively altered the surface of the Earth. Human actions— whether taken to cultivate food, or build roads, dwellings, and dams, or gather fuel and fiber—have left a visible legacy in the scattered remnants of native ecosystems. As the research summarized in this book illustrates, this kind of landscape alteration generally disrupts ecological systems to the...
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Page Count: 360
Illustrations: 42 illustrations
Publication Year: 2009