Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 547–560 | Cite as

Partitioning the effects of habitat fragmentation on rodent species richness in an urban landscape



Habitat fragmentation plays a major role in species extinction around the globe. Previous research has determined that species richness in fragments is affected by a number of characteristics. These include fragment age, size, and isolation, edge effects, vegetation coverage, habitat heterogeneity, and matrix content. Although most studies focused on one or a few of these characteristics, multiple characteristics work together to affect species richness, showing that the effects of habitat fragmentation are complex. The goal of our study was to partition the complex effects of habitat fragmentation by determining the direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of multiple habitat fragment characteristics on rodent species richness. In 2013, we determined rodent species richness in 25 habitat fragments within Thousand Oaks, California. In addition, we measured the following characteristics for each fragment: fragment age, area, isolation, shrub coverage, habitat heterogeneity, perimeter/area ratio, and percent non-urban buffer. Path Analysis was used to test the hypothesized model which described the direct, indirect, and cumulative effect of each habitat fragment characteristic on rodent species richness. Overall, the path model explained 67 % of the variation in rodent species richness among habitat fragments. Habitat heterogeneity had the greatest direct and total effect on rodent species richness. Fragment size had the next greatest total effect on rodent species richness but this was nearly entirely indirect through its influence on habitat heterogeneity, suggesting that large fragments containing the greatest diversity of habitats will support the most species. Our study shows that large habitat fragments support the greatest habitat diversity, which provides the highest likelihood of conserving rodent species richness in an urban landscape.


Habitat fragmentation Habitat heterogeneity Path analysis Rodents Species richness Urbanization 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyCalifornia State UniversityNorthridgeUSA
  2. 2.Department of General StudiesTrinity Bible CollegeEllendaleUSA

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