Habitat Loss and Fragmentation

The reduction of size of habitats, often by division into smaller pieces, is a prevalent threat to the Hudson Valley. Humans impact habitats directly by clearing land for road-building, agriculture, and residential or commercial development. Some consequences of habitat loss and fragmentation include loss of biodiversity and introduction of invasive species and nuisance animals. These consequences can alter population sizes, migration routes, and species distributions.

Habitat loss and fragmentation are two of the most urgent global threats to forests. More than 70% of the world’s forests are within one kilometer of the forest edge. This means that most forests are exposed to “edge effects,” like increased exposure to sun, wind, nonforest species, and human activity [1]. Wildlife that evolved to live deep within forests, without these disturbances, are very sensitive to these edge conditions and often cannot survive under them [2]. The problem is made even worse when naturally wandering species are unable to cross from forest patch to forest patch because of a fragmenting barrier, like a road. For example, female freshwater turtles are often killed by cars as they migrate from wetlands to drier, sunnier nesting areas [3]

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