Extinction filters mediate the global effects of habitat fragmentation on animals

Matthew G. Betts, Christopher Wolf, Marion Pfeifer, Cristina Banks-Leite, Víctor Arroyo-Rodríguez, Danilo Bandini Ribeiro, Jos Barlow, Felix Eigenbrod, Deborah Faria, Robert J. Fletcher, Adam S. Hadley, Joseph E. Hawes, Robert D. Holt, Brian Klingbeil, Urs Kormann, Luc Lens, Taal Levi, Guido F. Medina-Rangel, Stephanie L. Melles, Dirk MezgerJosé Carlos Morante-Filho, C. David L. Orme, Carlos A. Peres, Benjamin T. Phalan, Anna Pidgeon, Hugh Possingham, William J. Ripple, Eleanor M. Slade, Eduardo Somarriba, Joseph A. Tobias, Jason M. Tylianakis, J. Nicolás Urbina-Cardona, Jonathon J. Valente, James I. Watling, Konstans Wells, Oliver R. Wearn, Eric Wood, Richard Young, Robert M. Ewers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

157 Citations (Scopus)


Habitat loss is the primary driver of biodiversity decline worldwide, but the effects of fragmentation (the spatial arrangement of remaining habitat) are debated. We tested the hypothesis that forest fragmentation sensitivity - affected by avoidance of habitat edges - should be driven by historical exposure to, and therefore species' evolutionary responses to disturbance. Using a database containing 73 datasets collected worldwide (encompassing 4489 animal species), we found that the proportion of fragmentation-sensitive species was nearly three times as high in regions with low rates of historical disturbance compared with regions with high rates of disturbance (i.e., fires, glaciation, hurricanes, and deforestation). These disturbances coincide with a latitudinal gradient in which sensitivity increases sixfold at low versus high latitudes. We conclude that conservation efforts to limit edges created by fragmentation will be most important in the world's tropical forests.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1236-1239
Number of pages4
Issue number6470
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2019

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