The study of habitat fragmentation is fraught with definitional and conceptual challenges. Specifically, a multi-scale perspective is needed to address apparent disagreements between landscape- and patch-based studies that have caused significant uncertainty concerning fragmentation’s effects.
Here we test the hypothesis that habitat fragmentation alters biological communities by creating hierarchically nested selective pressures across plot-, patch-, and landscape-scales in the Thousand Island Lake, China. We assess the variation in fragmentation-diversity relationships contextualize the interplay of scale-dependent relationships.
This work utilized two datasets. At the island scale, islands were sampled to adequately capture the vast majority of species on each island using 5 × 5 m sampling cells. To capture intra-island variation, we sampled 400 m2 plots set up along an edge gradient on each island. The variation in species richness at each scale was then compared using Wilcoxon tests, Spearman rank correlations, generalized linear models, and single-large-or-several-small (SLOSS) simulations.
We find that edges have little impact on plot α-diversity and between-plot β-diversity, but increase the amount of β-diversity that can be attributed to nestedness at the plot-scale. We also find that the percent habitat in the surrounding landscape has a positive effect on species richness at the patch-scale and that small islands accumulate species faster than large islands of equal total size at the landscape-scale.
By observing interdependent effects at each scale, we find support for the hypothesis that habitat fragmentation’s effects are hierarchically structured. Therefore, multi-scale approaches are needed to understand the patterns, processes, and consequences of fragmentation.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant unlimited access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Akaike H (1973) Information theory and an extension of the maximum likelihood principal. In: Petrov BN, Caski F (eds) Proceedings of the second international symposium on information theory. Akademiai Kiado, Budapest, Hungary, pp 267–281
Baselga A (2010) Partitioning the turnover and nestedness components of beta diversity. Global Ecol and Biogeogr 19:134–143
Baselga A (2013) Multiple site dissimilarity quantifies compositional heterogeneity among several sites, while average pairwise dissimilarity may be misleading. Ecography 36:124–128
Baselga A (2017) Partitioning abundance-based multiple-site dissimilarity into components: balanced variation in abundance and abundance gradients. Methods Ecol and Evol 8:799–808
Baselga A, Orme CD (2012) betapart: an R package for the study of beta diversity. Methods Ecol Evol 3:808–812
Bennett AF, Radford JQ, Haslem A (2006) Properties of land mosaics: implications for nature conservation in agricultural envrionments. Biol Conserv 133:250–264
Collins CD, Banks-Leite C, Brudvig LA, Foster BG, Cook WM, Damschen EI, Andrade A, Austin M, Camargo JL, Driscoll DA, Holt RD, Laurance WF, Nicholls AO, Orrock JL (2017) Fragmentation affects plant community composition over time. Ecography 40:119–130
Crawley MJ, Harral JE (2001) Scale dependence in plant biodiversity. Science 291:864–868
Didham RK (2010) Ecological consequences of habitat fragmentation. In: Encyclopedia of life sciences. Wiley, Chichester
Didham RK, Kapos V, Ewers RM (2012) Rethinking the conceptual foundations of habitat fragmentation research. Oikos 121:161–170
Fahrig L (2003) Effects of habitat fragmentation on biodiversity. Annu Rev Ecol Evol Syst 34:487–515
Fahrig L (2017) Ecological responses to habitat fragmentation per se. Annu Rev Ecol Evol Syst 48:1–23
Fardila D, Kelly LT, Moore JL, McCarthy MA (2017) A systematic review reveals changes in where and how we have studied habitat loss and fragmentation over 20 years. Biol Conserv 212:130–138
Haddad NM, Brudvig LA, Clobert J, Davies KF, Gonzalez A, Holt RD, Lovejoy TE, Sexton JO, Austin MP, Collins CD, Cook WM, Damschen EI, Ewers RM, Foster BL, Jenkins CN, King AJ, Laurance WF, Levey DJ, Margules CR, Melbourne BA, Nicholls AI, Orrock JL, Song DX, Townshend JR (2015) Habitat fragmentation and it’s lasting impact on Earth’s ecosystems. Sci Adv 1:e1500052
Holyoak M, Leibold MA, Mouquet N, Holt RD, Hoopes MF (2005) Metacommunities: a framework for large-scale community ecology. In: Holyoak M, Leibold MA, Holt RD (eds) Metacommunities: spatial dynamics and ecological communities. University of Chicago Press, Chicago
Hu G, Feely KJ, Wu J, Xu GF, Yu MJ (2011) Determinants of plant species richness and patterns of nestedness in fragmented landscapes: evidence from land-bridge islands. Landscape Ecol 26:1405–1417
Hu G, Feely KJ, Yu MJ (2016) Habitat fragmentation drives plant community assembly processes across life stages. PLoS ONE 11:e0159572
Lafortezza R, Coomes DA, Kapos V, Ewers RM (2010) Assessing the impacts of fragmentation on plant communities in New Zealand: scaling from survey plots to landscapes. Global Ecol Biogeogr 19:741–754
Laurance WF (2010) Beyond island biogeography theory: understanding habitat fragmentation in the real world. In: Losos JB, Ricklefs RE (eds) The theory of island biogeography revisited. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ
Laurance WF, Nascimento HEM, Laurance SG, Andrade A, Ribeiro JELS, Giraldo JP, Lovejoy TE, Condit R, Chave J, Harms KE, D’Angelo S (2006) Rapid decay of tree-community composition in Amazonian forest fragments. PNatl Acad Sci 103:19010–19014
Laurance WF, Camargo JLC, Luizāo RCC, Laurance SG, Pimm SL, Bruna EM, Stouffer PC, Williamson GB, Benitez-Malvido J, Vasconcelos HL, Van Houtan KS, Zartman CE, Boyle SA, Didham RK, Andrade A, Lovejoy TE (2011) The fate of Amazonian forest fragments: a 32-year investigation. Biol Conserv 144:56–67
Liu JL, Velland M, Wang ZH, Yu MJ (2018) High beta diversity among small islands is due to environmental heterogeneity rather than ecological drift. J Biogeogr 45:2252–2261
Lomolino MV (2000) A call for a new paradigm of island biogeography. Global Ecol Biogeogr 9:1–6
Lomolino MV, Brown JH, Sax DF (2010) Island biogeography theory: reticulations and reintegration of “a biogeography of the species”. In: Losos JB, Ricklefs RE (eds) The theory of island biogeography revisited. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ
MacArthur RH, Wilson EO (1967) The theory of island biogeography. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ
McGarigal K, Cushman SA, Ene E (2012) FRAGSTATS v4: spatial pattern analysis program for categorical and continuous maps: computer software program produced by the authors at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Available at the following web site: http://www.umass.edu/landeco/research/fragstats/fragstats.html
Murcia C (1995) Edge effects in fragmented forests: implications for conservation. Trends Ecol Evol 10:58–62
R Core Team (2013). R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R foundation for statistical computing, Vienna, Austria. http://www.R-project.org/
Su X, Yuan J, Hu G, Xu G, Yu MJ (2014) Edge effect of the plant community structure on land-bridge islands in the Thousand Island Lake. Chin J Appl Ecol 24:77–84 (in Chinese with English abstract)
Valdés A, Lenoir J, Gallet-Moron E, Andrieu E, Brunet J, Chabrerie O, Closset-Kopp D, Cousins SAO, Deconchat M, De Frenne P, De Smedt P, Diekmann M, Hansen K, Hermy M, Kolb A, Liira J, Lindgren J, Naaf T, Paal T, Prokofieva I, Scherer-Lorenzen M, Wulf M, Verheyen K, Decocq G (2015) The contribution of patch-scale conditions is greater than that of macroclimate in explaining local plant diversity in fragmented forests across Europe. Global Ecol Biogeogr 24:1094–1105
Wilcove DS, McLellan CH, Dobson AP (1986) Habitat fragmentation in the temperate zone. In: Soulé ME (ed) Conservation biology: the science of diversity. Sinauer Assocociates, MA
Wilson MC, Chen XY, Corlett RT, Didham RK, Ding P, Holt RD, Holyoak M, Hu G, Hughes AC, Jiang L, Laurance WF, Liu JJ, Pimm SL, Robinson SK, Russo SE, Si XF, Wilcove DS, Wu JG, Yu MJ (2016) Habitat fragmentation and biodiversity conservation: key findings and future challenges. Landscape Ecol 31:219–227
Wu JG (2009) Ecological dynamics in fragmented landscapes. In: Levin S (ed) Princeton Guide to Ecology. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ
Wu JG, Loucks OL (1995) From balance of nature to hierarchical patch dynamics: a paradigm shift in ecology. Q Rev Biol 70:439–486
Young A, Mitchell N (1994) Microclimate and vegetation edge effects in a fragmented podocarp-broadleaved forest in New Zealand. Biol Conserv 67:63–72
Yu MJ, Hu G, Feely KJ, Wu JG, Ding P (2012) Richness and composition of plants and birds on land-bridge islands: effects of island attributes and differential responses of species groups. J Biogeogr 39:1124–1133
We thank Raphael Didham, Ignacio Fernandez, and Bingbing Zhou for their insightful comments during the conception and execution of this study. We also thank the Jinfeng Yuan and countless other students, post-docs, professors and local people who worked to collect the woody-plant data utilized here. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation of the United States (NSF DEB-1342754 and DEB-1342757), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC 31361123001 and 31570524), and the First Class of Disciplines-B of Zhejiang Province (Civil Engineering).
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Electronic supplementary material
About this article
Cite this article
Wilson, M.C., Hu, G., Jiang, L. et al. Assessing habitat fragmentation’s hierarchical effects on species diversity at multiple scales: the case of Thousand Island Lake, China. Landscape Ecol (2020) doi:10.1007/s10980-019-00961-1
- Habitat fragmentation
- Hierarchical patch dynamics
- Species diversity
- Thousand Island Lake