Whilst Island Biogeography Theory originally led many to believe that larger, more connected patches of habitat are more important for species conservation, new research suggests that overlooking smaller patches could be dangerous (Image Credit: LuxTonnerre, CC BY 2.0, Image Cropped)
Global synthesis of conservation studies reveals the importance of small habitat patches for biodiversity (2019) Wintle et al., PNAS, https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1813051115
Human land use over the past millenia has divided species habitats into smaller and smaller patches – a practice which often leaves conservationists with the tough choice of which remaining patches they should focus their efforts on. Traditional practice has seen the prioritisation of large patches that are well connected to other, with this preference often meaning that smaller more isolated patches are neglected, and often cleared.
This week’s paper authors wanted to check whether this was really the best way of doing things, by looking at the relative conservation value of a variety of habitat patches.