Habitat loss, Habitat fragmentation, and Habitat destruction are often analogous to each other. They are interconnected being cause or effect of similar reasons. In order to understand habitat fragmentation first, we need to understand about Habitat destruction.
Habitat destruction is the Condition when enough change has happened to an area that it can no longer support the natural wildlife. This change can be in the form of destruction, fragmentation, or degradation to name a few. Among those causes habitat fragmentation is a chief one.
The term ‘Habitat Fragmentation’ can be understood from the term itself. Habitat means the natural environment of an organism or a place that is natural for the life and growth of an organism. Similarly, the dictionary meaning of fragmentation is a process or state of breaking or being broken into various pieces.
Combining these two words it becomes Habitat Fragmentation which can be simply understood as the division of the habitat of wildlife into fragments or pieces. It involves the destruction of the natural homes of wildlife.
Habitat fragmentation is the process by which habitat loss results in the division of large continuous habitats into smaller and more isolated remnants. It simply involves the alternation of habitat units from a previous state of greater continuity.
Habitat loss is the ultimate result of habitat fragmentation and habitat destruction. It is a Reduction in the habitat area along with fragile habitat components to sustain the previously existing species.
Causes of habitat fragmentation
- Frequently caused by humans when native vegetation is cleared for human activities such as agriculture, rural development, urbanization, and the creation of hydroelectric reservoirs.
- Human activities such as new roads, parking lots, and housing developments.
- Habitats may also become fragmented by natural processes. Rivers serve as natural pathways for both terrestrial and aquatic animals.
- Unusual and Catastrophic events such as earthquakes, volcanoes, etc.
Habitat fragmentation is often a cause of species becoming threatened or endangered. The existence of viable habitats is critical to the survival of any species, and in many cases, the fragmentation of any remaining habitat can lead to difficult decisions for conservation biologists.
Given the limited amount of resources available for conservation is it preferable to protect the existing isolated patches of habitat or to buy back land to get the largest possible continuous piece of land?
- Link the fragments by preserving or planting corridors of native vegetation.
- Enlargement of small remnants in order to increase the amount of interior habitat.
- The most probable solution is to emphasize the mobile species like birds needing no physical corridor for connectivity.