May 29, 2013 — In a study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, a team of researchers led by NJIT Associate Professor Gareth Russell has applied a novel method for linking large-scale habitat fragmentation to population sustainability.
"Our goal was to assess the extinction risk for bird species in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil, a global 'hotspot' of bird diversity," said Russell. "Based on elevation restrictions and forest type requirements, as well as ongoing tropical deforestation, we already knew that most species have access to far less habitat than typically assumed. But what habitat remains is also highly fragmented. Looking at area alone is not enough."
Other researchers included Stuart Pimm, Doris Duke Professor of Conservation Ecology, Duke University; Grant Harris, chief of biological sciences (Southwest region), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and Jessica Schnell, recently graduated, now at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Germany.
More accurate habitat maps show the extent of fragmentation, but researchers still must link the particular habitat distribution of a species to its extinction risk in an objective and consistent manner.