The isolation of habitat patches is often cited as having a major impact on the dynamics of small populations occupying patches in a complex landscape. Few studies, however, have provided field data demonstrating that isolation has an identifiable effect on specific populations independent of other factors such as local habitat quality or that landscape factors such as corridors can alleviate such effects. We conducted field surveys of Bachman’s Sparrow (Aimophila aestivalis) populations in regions, which we call linear landscapes, where suitable habitat patches were isolated to varying degrees from potential sources of dispersing birds. In these linear landscapes, isolated patches of habitat were less likely to be colonized than were nonisolated patches. We also found that corridor configurations of habitat patches improved the ability of sparrows to find and settle in newly created patches. These results suggest that, for species that do not disperse easily through inhospitable landscapes, habitat occupancy at a regional scale can be enhanced by careful landscape design and planning.
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Jun 1, 1995
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