A broader ecological context to habitat fragmentation: Why matrix habitat is more important than we thought
Article first published online: 24 FEB 2009
2003 IAVS - the International Association of Vegetation Science
Journal of Vegetation Science
Volume 14, Issue 3, pages 459–464, June 2003
How to Cite
Jules, E. S. and Shahani, P. (2003), A broader ecological context to habitat fragmentation: Why matrix habitat is more important than we thought. Journal of Vegetation Science, 14: 459–464. doi: 10.1111/j.1654-1103.2003.tb02172.x
- Issue published online: 24 FEB 2009
- Article first published online: 24 FEB 2009
- Received 21 June 2002; Revision received 22 December 2002; Accepted 30 December 2002.
- Clear-cut logging;
- Habitat remnant;
- Patch dynamics;
- Plant population viability;
- Understorey vegetation
Abstract. Consequences of habitat fragmentation have garnered much attention over the past few decades. The resulting literature has been useful for understanding how land-use changes influence population viability and community structure, but we are still hampered by a major aspect of the conceptual framework within which most fragmentation work arises. Specifically, habitat between fragments (‘matrix’) is usually treated as uniform and ecologically irrelevant. However, recent work on animals shows that matrix habitat can profoundly influence within-fragment dynamics. We review related evidence for plants. Various matrix types (e.g. clear-cutting, agriculture, or urbanization) can act in different ways to alter resource availability and movement of pollinators, seed dispersers, and herbivores. Inclusion of matrix qualities in fragmentation studies is further complicated since most matrices are not static; sites in which timber harvesting or agriculture occur develop through succession or change as crops are rotated, respectively, such that their influence on within-fragment processes vary temporally. Also, many plants are not restricted to remnants of original habitat. Using studies of forest understory plants, we summarize work showing how diversity can change significantly through time in matrix. Understanding the persistence of a species across fragmented landscapes will require more attention to matrix habitat, and to the species utilizing the matrix.