, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 191-201

Landscape ecology as a theoretical basis for nature conservation

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Abstract

Conservation of representative biotopes, single species populations or biodiversity usually embraces two or more biotopes, and is often affected by surrounding croplands. The conclusions from landscape ecological studies can, therefore, offer important contributions to conservation, especially at early levels of landscape change or habitat fragmentation. Indicator and keystone species are useful for monitoring and managing fragmented biotopes, respectively. Communities as well as single species are affected by the juxtaposition of successional and climax biotopes, which influence climatic equability, seasonality, productivity and dispersal. Low levels of fragmentation may result in ill-functioning communities, and greater fragmentation may result in species losses and ultimately in the loss of whole communities. Fragmented habitats retain species with high reproductive and dispersal rates and generalized habitat selection. New combinations of interacting species will lead to trivialization of earlier habitat-specific interactions. Validation of these concepts was made with data from a Swedish research program on fragmented biotopes in production landscapes. General reserve selection and methods of management for preserving climax communities, single specialized species and high biodiversity are suggested.