Toward conciliation in the habitat fragmentation and biodiversity debate

Publications Type: 
Journal Article
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Valente, Jonathon J.; Gannon, Dustin G.; Hightower, Jessica; Kim, Hankyu; Leimberger, Kara G.; Macedo, Rossana; Rousseau, Josée S.; Weldy, Matthew J.; Zitomer, Rachel A.; Fahrig, Lenore; Fletcher, Robert J.; Wu, Jianguo; Betts, Matthew G. 2023. Toward conciliation in the habitat fragmentation and biodiversity debate. Landscape Ecology. 14pp. doi:


Landscape-scale conservation planning is urgent given the extent of anthropogenic land-use change and its pervasive impacts on Earth’s biodiversity. However, such efforts are hindered by disagreements over the effects of habitat fragmentation on biodiversity that have persisted since the mid-1970s. We contend that nearly 50 years later, these disagreements have become a locked-in debate characterized by polarized, unproductive discourse and a lack of consistent guidance for landscape managers and policy makers. Here, we highlight the need for a unified set of principles regarding conservation in fragmented landscapes, identify potential reasons for disparate conclusions in fragmentation research, and suggest ways for the ecological community to advance research that leads to consensus rather than the perpetuation of disagreement. Explicit efforts to develop and test multiple competing hypotheses, inter-laboratory collaborations, and acknowledgement of multiple interacting effects will be vital for moving the fragmentation debate forward. We argue that we in the ecology community should be responsible for helping to reconcile different views across scales, systems, and methodological approaches to advance conservation planning within a landscape ecology framework