Species loss in fragments of tropical rain forest: a review of the evidence.

Published online
28 Aug 1996
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Turner, I. M.

Publication language


A review of the literature shows that in nearly all cases tropical rain forest fragmentation has led to a local loss of species. Isolated fragments suffer reductions in species richness (biodiversity) with time after excision from continuous forest, and small fragments often have fewer species recorded for the same effort of observation than large fragments or areas of continuous forest. Birds have been the most frequently studied taxonomic group with respect to the effects of tropical fragmentation, although some studies have included other animals and plants. The mechanisms of fragmentation related extinction include the deleterious effects of human disturbance during and after deforestation, the reduction of population sizes, the reduction of immigration rates, forest edge effects, changes in community structure (second- and higher-order effects) and the immigration of exotic species. The relative importance of these mechanisms remains obscure. Animals that are large, sparsely or patchily distributed, or very specialized and intolerant of the vegetation surrounding fragments, are particularly prone to local extinction. The large number of indigenous species that are very sparsely distributed and intolerant of conditions outside the forest make evergreen tropical rain forest particularly susceptible to species loss through fragmentation.

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