Potential effects of habitat fragmentation on wild animal welfare

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Luke Hecht, Matthew Allcock


The fragmentation of habitat has occurred throughout the history of life on Earth, but has been accelerated and magnified in scale over the past few centuries as a result of human industrial development. Habitat fragmentation affects the welfare of some wild animals directly, through the often violent processes that bring about fragmentation and by reducing the distance between them and the stressful environment outside of their ideal habitat. However, habitat fragmentation may also influence wild animal welfare through its indirect effects on population dynamics and the evolution of welfare-relevant phenotypic traits and behavioural strategies. It is plausible that these indirect effects of habitat change dominate the direct effects because they occur over many generations, potentially affecting a far greater number of individuals than were present when their habitat was fragmented. Here, we review prior research on habitat fragmentation to identify tentative lessons and promising areas for future research as it relates to wild animal welfare.




Animal Sciences, Biodiversity, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Forest Sciences, Life Sciences



Published: 2020-06-19 03:36

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