A CONCEPTUAL GENEALOGY OF FRAGMENTATION RESEARCH: FROM ISLAND BIOGEOGRAPHY TO LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY **

A CONCEPTUAL GENEALOGY OF FRAGMENTATION RESEARCH: FROM ISLAND BIOGEOGRAPHY TO LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY ** The concept of habitat fragmentation has become an important theme in conservation research, and it is often used as if fragmentation were a unitary phenomenon. However, the concept is ambiguous, and empirical studies demonstrate a wide variety of direct and indirect effects, sometimes with mutually opposing implications. The effects of fragmentation vary across organisms, habitat types, and geographic regions. Such a contrast between a schematic concept and multifaceted empirical reality is counterproductive. I analyzed the stabilization of the schematic view of fragmentation by the early 1980s, using a genealogical narrative as a methodological approach. The main assumptions behind the schematic view were: (1) fragments are comparable to oceanic islands; (2) habitats surrounding fragments are hostile to a majority of the organisms; and (3) natural pre-fragmentation conditions were uniform. The stabilization loop of this view was supported by the reduction of empirical research to species––area curve fitting, which always produced expected results. I present a model of the dynamics of fragmentation research that shows the schematic, island-biogeographic view as an ““intellectual attractor.”” Since the 1980s, the theoretical presuppositions of the schematic view have been challenged, and empirical research has become multifaceted. Fragments of a particular habitat type are viewed as elements in a heterogeneous landscape rather than ““islands”” surrounded by a hostile ““sea.”” However, the island metaphor is still used in conservation contexts in the shape of species––area curves. It is backed by a presupposition that human-influenced environments are essentially different from so-called ““natural”” environments, but this is unfounded. My suggestion is that our perspective should be broadened still further so that habitat fragmentation is viewed as a particular form of human-induced environmental degradation; I discuss both theoretical and practical implications of this suggestion. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Ecological Applications Ecological Society of America

A CONCEPTUAL GENEALOGY OF FRAGMENTATION RESEARCH: FROM ISLAND BIOGEOGRAPHY TO LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY **

Ecological Applications, Volume 12 (2) – Apr 1, 2002

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Publisher
Ecological Society of America
Copyright
Copyright © 2002 by the Ecological Society of America
Subject
Articles
ISSN
1051-0761
D.O.I.
10.1890/1051-0761%282002%29012%5B0321:ACGOFR%5D2.0.CO%3B2
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The concept of habitat fragmentation has become an important theme in conservation research, and it is often used as if fragmentation were a unitary phenomenon. However, the concept is ambiguous, and empirical studies demonstrate a wide variety of direct and indirect effects, sometimes with mutually opposing implications. The effects of fragmentation vary across organisms, habitat types, and geographic regions. Such a contrast between a schematic concept and multifaceted empirical reality is counterproductive. I analyzed the stabilization of the schematic view of fragmentation by the early 1980s, using a genealogical narrative as a methodological approach. The main assumptions behind the schematic view were: (1) fragments are comparable to oceanic islands; (2) habitats surrounding fragments are hostile to a majority of the organisms; and (3) natural pre-fragmentation conditions were uniform. The stabilization loop of this view was supported by the reduction of empirical research to species––area curve fitting, which always produced expected results. I present a model of the dynamics of fragmentation research that shows the schematic, island-biogeographic view as an ““intellectual attractor.”” Since the 1980s, the theoretical presuppositions of the schematic view have been challenged, and empirical research has become multifaceted. Fragments of a particular habitat type are viewed as elements in a heterogeneous landscape rather than ““islands”” surrounded by a hostile ““sea.”” However, the island metaphor is still used in conservation contexts in the shape of species––area curves. It is backed by a presupposition that human-influenced environments are essentially different from so-called ““natural”” environments, but this is unfounded. My suggestion is that our perspective should be broadened still further so that habitat fragmentation is viewed as a particular form of human-induced environmental degradation; I discuss both theoretical and practical implications of this suggestion.

Journal

Ecological ApplicationsEcological Society of America

Published: Apr 1, 2002

Keywords: dynamics of research ; ecological theory ; ecology and environmentalism ; environmental degradation ; genealogy ; habitat degradation ; habitat fragmentation ; island biogeography ; landscape ecology

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