Journal Article

Effects of habitat fragmentation on avian nesting success: a review of the evidence at multiple spatial scales

Stephens, S. E., Koons, D. N., Rotella, J. J., Willey, D. W.
Biological Conservation, 101–110 (2003)


We reviewed published literature to examine the effect of habitat fragmentation on avian nesting success at three spatial scales (i.e., edge, patch, and landscape scales). We identified 86 relevant manuscripts that provided 117 individual tests of hypotheses regarding the effects of habitat fragmentation on nesting success. Most papers and reviews on this topic have been narrow in scope and have not examined multiple spatial scales. However, our results suggest that the scale at which fragmentation is measured (i.e., edge, patch and landscape) and the duration of the study do influence the probability that a study will detect a fragmentation effect. Studies that measured fragmentation at landscape scales and studies conducted over several years were more likely to detect effects of fragmentation on nesting success. A recent review of research on nest predators and habitat fragmentation found a very similar scale-dependent pattern; predator effects were more prevalent when fragmentation occurs at landscape scales than patch or edge scales. Based on these findings, we recommend future research on the topic should be conducted at the landscape scale, over several years, and incorporate accompanying work on nest-predator ecology. Correspondingly, conservation actions that limit fragmentation at landscape scales should have positive impacts on nesting success rates and bird populations.
Keywords: fertility, life histories, spatial distance, survival
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.