Does the type of matrix matter? A quantitative review of the evidence
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It has been increasingly recognized that the type of matrix surrounding habitat patches can affect biodiversity in landscapes, but there were only qualitative reviews of the subject focused on particular taxonomic groups. We present a quantitative review of studies from 1985 to 2008 that compared effects of different matrix types on individuals, populations and communities. We compiled 104 studies, most on animals, covering a broad range of landscape types and spatial scales. Most studies were empirical, focused on individuals and communities, and evaluated abundance/richness in the patch as the dependent variable. The type of matrix surrounding habitat patches influenced the studied parameters in 95% of the studies, but such effects were overall smaller compared to patch size or isolation effects. Matrix type effects were strongly species-specific, with different species responding differently to matrix type in 96% of studies comparing species or group of species. In 88% of studies, matrix types more similar in structure to the patch had higher quality for the studied organisms from the point of view of functional connectivity. Overall, the type of matrix is important, but patch size and isolation are the main determinants of ecological parameters in landscapes. Matrix quality generally increases with increasing structural similarity with habitat patches, a pattern that could be used as a general guideline for management of the matrix in fragmented landscapes.