Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Habitat fragmentation

Dr Maurizio Rossetto - Senior Research Scientist

Habitat fragmentation - a threat to biodiversity

Habitat fragmentation caused by clearing and other human-related disturbances is one of the most serious ecological threats confronting the long-term survival of flora and fauna. Species survival is under significant threat when ecological communities are restricted to small isolated vegetation pockets. Biodiversity is quickly lost from small remnants and even those few species that persist are at risk. This is because fragmented populations are under intensified pressure from unpredictable environmental events. Other factors such as inbreeding and the loss of inter-population connectivity among isolated remnants can also significantly affect viability.

How can we abate the threats of habitat fragmentation?

Ideally, to reduce the threats of fragmentation the actions causing it should be controlled or ceased altogether. However, the consequences of fragmentation are already far-reaching and in order to re-establish natural process in vegetation remnants we often need to resort to revegetation, habitat restoration and reintroductions. These are very complex procedures that ideally require adequate knowledge of the natural processes that ensure long-term viability of populations, species and whole ecological communities.

Current research on habitat fragmentation

Understanding how fragmentation is affecting population dynamics and species viability is a critical step towards successful management. As research on the consequences of fragmentation is gaining momentum, new theoretical and technical advances are providing increasingly useful information. Innovative DNA-based research at the Roayl Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust is exposing the changes in seed and pollen dispersal that occur because of fragmentation and how such changes affect overall population viability. The availability of such information will lead to the development of much improved conservation, management and revegetation strategies for some of our critically endangered plant communities. 

Mount Annan Botanic Garden

Wollemi Pine habitat