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Tropical Deforestation & Habitat Destruction
Image of a rainforest.  This image links to a more detailed image.Habitat loss takes several forms: outright loss of areas used by wild species; degradation, for example, from vegetation removal and erosion, which deprive native species of food, shelter, and breeding areas; and fragmentation, when native species are squeezed onto small patches of undisturbed land surrounded by areas cleared for agriculture and other purposes. In the latter case, ecosystem functions such as the hydrological cycle might be interrupted, native species may be crowded out because habitat fragments are too small, and fragment edges may prove uninhabitable to plants and animals associated with the habitat type because of exposure to wind, sunlight, new predators, and other factors (referred to by ecologists as edge effect). Photo: PhotoDisc Inc.

While much attention has been paid to deforestation and other forms of habitat destruction, few attempts have been made to measure the loss of habitat through fragmentation and edge effect. A 1993 study of deforestation and fragmentation in the Brazilian Amazon basin between 1978 and 1988 found that of total habitat affected, only 39 percent could be attributed to outright forest conversion; the rest occurred through fragmentation and edge effect. (United Nations Development Program, 1994).

[ Slash & Burn Agriculture ] [ From the Seat of the Bulldozer ] [ Regrowth in a Tropical Rainforest ]
[ Data Collection in the Amazon ] [ Colonization of the Rainforest ] [ Loving the Rainforest to Death ]
[ Frogs in the Rainforest ] [ Tropical Deforestation & Habitat Destruction ]
[ The Importance of Forests & the Perils of Deforestation ] [ Hamburgers in the Rainforest ]
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Last updated November 10, 2004

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