• disturbance-dependent species;
  • intermediate disturbance hypothesis;
  • multipatch scale;
  • Natura 2000;
  • threatened and endangered species


Disproportionately large numbers of threatened and endangered species and unusually high biodiversity occur on active and former military training areas. Although this may seem paradoxical given the apparently destructive nature of military training, an evaluation of the nature and extent of the disturbances is enlightening. Military training frequently produces heterogeneous landscapes. Large portions of military training areas remain virtually untouched, favoring disturbance-averse species; other portions are heavily disturbed, favoring disturbance-dependent species. The rich habitat mosaics include the two extremes as well as the continua of disturbance and succession between them, thus providing suitable habitat for a very large number of species with widely varying habitat requirements. To explain the phenomenon, a heterogeneous disturbance hypothesis is proposed which suggests that biodiversity is maximized where multiple kinds, frequencies, severities, periodicities, sizes, shapes, and/or durations of disturbance occur concomitantly on a landscape in a spatially and temporally distributed fashion. The enhanced biodiversity occurring on active and former military training areas illustrates the need for restoration ecologists to restore or maintain an appropriate heterogeneous disturbance regime when attempting to restore ecosystem function and biodiversity.