Imperial College London


Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Life Sciences (Silwood Park)

Reader in Biodiversity Theory



+44 (0)20 7594 2242j.rosindell




W1.5KennedySilwood Park






BibTex format

author = {Banks-Leite, C and Fletcher, R and Didham, R and Barlow, J and Ewers, RM and Rosindell, JL and Holt, RD and Gonzalez, A and Pardini, R and Damschen, E and Melo, FPL and Ries, L and Prevedello, JA and Tscharntke, WF and Laurance, WF and Lovejoy, T and Haddad, NM},
doi = {10.1016/j.biocon.2018.07.022},
journal = {Biological Conservation},
pages = {9--15},
title = {Is habitat fragmentation good for biodiversity?},
url = {},
volume = {226},
year = {2018}

RIS format (EndNote, RefMan)

AB - Habitat loss is a primary threat to biodiversity across the planet, yet contentious debate has ensued on the importance of habitat fragmentation ‘per se’ (i.e., altered spatial configuration of habitat for a given amount of habitat loss). Based on a review of landscape-scale investigations, Fahrig (2017; Ecological responses to habitat fragmentation per se. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 48:1-23) reports that biodiversity responses to habitat fragmentation ‘per se’ are more often positive rather than negative and concludes that the widespread belief in negative fragmentation effects is a ‘zombie idea’. We show that Fahrig's conclusions are drawn from a narrow and potentially biased subset of available evidence, which ignore much of the observational, experimental and theoretical evidence for negative effects of altered habitat configuration. We therefore argue that Fahrig's conclusions should be interpreted cautiously as they could be misconstrued by policy makers and managers, and we provide six arguments why they should not be applied in conservation decision-making. Reconciling the scientific disagreement, and informing conservation more effectively, will require research that goes beyond statistical and correlative approaches. This includes a more prudent use of data and conceptual models that appropriately partition direct vs indirect influences of habitat loss and altered spatial configuration, and more clearly discriminate the mechanisms underpinning any changes. Incorporating these issues will deliver greater mechanistic understanding and more predictive power to address the conservation issues arising from habitat loss and fragmentation.
AU - Banks-Leite,C
AU - Fletcher,R
AU - Didham,R
AU - Barlow,J
AU - Ewers,RM
AU - Rosindell,JL
AU - Holt,RD
AU - Gonzalez,A
AU - Pardini,R
AU - Damschen,E
AU - Melo,FPL
AU - Ries,L
AU - Prevedello,JA
AU - Tscharntke,WF
AU - Laurance,WF
AU - Lovejoy,T
AU - Haddad,NM
DO - 10.1016/j.biocon.2018.07.022
EP - 15
PY - 2018///
SN - 0006-3207
SP - 9
TI - Is habitat fragmentation good for biodiversity?
T2 - Biological Conservation
UR -
UR -
VL - 226
ER -