A framework for conceptualizing human effects on landscapes and its relevance to management and research models

S. McIntyre, Richard Hobbs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

380 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The concept of habitat fragmentation is limited in its ability to describe the range of possible landscape configurations created by a variety of disturbances. This limitation is especially problematic in landscapes where human use of the habitat matrix occurs at multiple levels and where habitat modification may be a more important consideration than a simple binary classification of habitat versus nonhabitat. We propose a synthesizing scheme that places intact, variegated, fragmented, and relictual landscape states on a continuum, depending on the degree of habitat destruction. At a second level, the scheme considers the patterns of habitat modification that are imposed on remaining habitats. Management for conservation involves halting and sometimes reversing the trends of habitat destruction and modification. Conservation strategies will differ according to the state of alteration of the landscape, but all strategies include some consideration of the degree of modification of the matrix in determining habitat viability. It is convenient for biologists to assess landscape alteration state in terms of the persistence of large structural elements such as trees. Because animal species use habitats differently, however, they also experience the landscape differently. A landscape considered structurally fragmented by humans may be functionally variegated to other species. Therefore, it is necessary to consider the extent to which the entire landscape, including the matrix, is accessible and utilized by organisms with different spatial scales of resource use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1282-1292
Number of pages11
JournalConservation Biology
Volume13
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1999
Externally publishedYes

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