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“Fragmentation … not only causes loss of the amount of habitat, but by creating small, isolated patches it also changes the properties of the remaining habitat”(Van den Berg et al. 2001). Habitat fragmentation can cause devastating and costly consequences on the biodiversity of ecosystems. What exactly is habitat fragmentation? Habitat fragmentation is the process by which loss of habitat results from division of large, continuous habitats into smaller, more isolated patches of landscape.  There are two main factors that cause habitat fragmentation, human activities and natural processes. Human activities that cause habitat fragmentation include logging, construction of new roads, parking lots, houses, and things of that nature that essentially cut off and divide terrestrial habitats that occupied that area. Natural processes such as fires, floods, and volcanic activity are known to cause habitat fragmentation as well. When people think of habitat fragmentation they think of the negative ecological consequences that unfortunately result from it and this is because habitat fragmentation has adverse impacts on biodiversity. 

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Affects of habitat fragmentation on biodiversity
Habitat fragmentation resulting in habitat loss has consistently negative effects on biodiversity. The negative effects of habitat fragmentation apply to direct measures of biodiversity such as species richness ( Gurd et al. 2001, Schmiegelow & Mönkkönen 2002, Steffan-Dewenter et al. 2002), population abundance and distribution (Best et al. 2001, Gibbs 1998, Hargis et al. 1999, Hinsley et al. 1995, Venier & Fahrig 1996) and genetic diversity (Gibbs 2001), as well as indirect measures of biodiversity and factors affecting biodiversity. Bascompte et al. created a model that predicts a negative effect of habitat fragmentation on population growth rate. Donovan and Flather also found that species that show declining trends in abundance are more likely to occur in areas with high fragmentation compared to species with stable or increasing trends. Habitat fragmentation also reduces trophic chain length, alter species interactions, negatively affects dispersal success, breeding success, foraging, and predation rate. 
Biodiversity is influenced by habitat fragmentation at various scales of space and time. The loss of ecosystem types and species cause an increased patchiness resulting in lower population sizes and decreased connectivity. As a result, organisms may experience decreased dispersal abilities and lowered gene flows between populations. (Roman et. al). Fragmentation affects species populations in a number of ways, such as decreased species diversity and lower densities of some animal species in the smaller, isolated patches (Noss and Cooperrider 1994). The area of the original habitat diminishes due to habitat fragmentation. The resulting habitat loss and the reduced density of resources associated with fragmentation potentially impacts the species of the particular region more than any other factor (Keller and Anderson 1992). Habitat fragmentation affects the organisms of a given ecosystem by replacing a continuous ecosystem with a human-dominated landscape, such as roads and housing developments, which become inhabitable to some of the original species.
A reason for loss of species within habitats may be due to human landscape changes that alter the stability of an ecosystem in favor of species that are highly adaptable to changing conditions. For instance the increase in human-dominated landscape allows certain species to grow exponentially which can harm species that rely exclusively on the interior portion of the habitat (Botkin and Keller 1991). Mayfield (1977) explains how the parasitic brown-headed cowbird populations have increased dramatically since humans began changing the landscape on a large scale in North America. Brown-headed cowbirds are nest parasites, this means they replace the eggs of another species with eggs of their own. In turn the other bird species unknowingly incubates and raises their young. Their increased numbers have had negative effects on the reproductive success of many forest-dwelling songbirds (Mayfield 1977). 
Other than the shifting of the ecosystem balance towards highly adaptable species, the loss of habitat due to habitat fragmentation may cause a decline in interior species populations, which are not as easily adaptable to changing environments. (Saunders 1989) noted an example of how changing large vast areas of intact habitat into fragmented islands affects birds. He researched changes in the birds of the wheat belt of Western Australia as a result of fragmentation. Saunders determined that 41% of the birds native to the region have decreased in range or abundance since the 1900’s. Revealing that almost all of these changes resulted directly from habitat fragmentation and the decrease of native vegetation. Although some species have increased in abundance, he noted that many more species have been adversely affected than have benefited. However the species that usually increase in abundance or range when habitat fragmentation occurs are species that are highly adaptable (Saunders 1989). They are able to utilize resources found in a variety of conditions, and often benefit from human activities by reducing their competition with other species. 

Patch size and isolation effects
In addition to habitat loss the process of fragmentation has other effects, which are increase in number of patches, decrease in patch size, and increased isolation of patches. Reduced patch size limits resource availability, alters reproductive success, and constrains maximum population size. Reduced patch size also negatively affects large-bodied and wide-ranging species that require large areas for suitable habitats. If these impacts become extreme, this exposes populations to a risk of local extinction. Isolation of habitats negatively impact species that need access to multiple habitat patches by reducing their access and availability to resources. As isolation of habitats increase consequences such as inbreeding occur, which causes less genetic diversity and genetic abnormalities resulting in a reduction of overall fitness of certain species. 

Importance of biodiversity
Biodiversity is the amount of variety of life forms on Earth, this includes plants, animals, microorganisms from terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems. Biodiversity ensures natural sustainability for all life forms and boosts ecosystem productivity. Productivity stems directly from each species in an ecosystem having a specific niche or particular role that is important to that ecosystem. Healthy ecosystems and rich biodiversity protects freshwater resources, contributes to climate stability, provides more food resources, allows for more medicinal and pharmaceutical resources, supports a larger number of plants species, and promotes soil formation and protection. 
Biodiversity is important to humans for many reasons including economic, ecological, recreational, cultural, and scientific. From the economic standpoint biodiversity gives humans raw materials for consumption and production. From an ecological standpoint biodiversity provides ecosystems that produce oxygen, clean water, pollination, and wastewater treatment. From a recreational standpoint hobbies such as hiking, birdwatching, camping, fishing, and tourism depend on biodiversity. From a cultural standpoint there are many cultures that closely connected to biodiversity through beliefs, spirituality, and expression of identity. This arises from their deep appreciation for plants, animals, and nature. From a scientific standpoint biodiversity affords us a plethora of ecological data that allows us to the study the natural world, its history, and its origins. 
The importance of biodiversity conservation is imperative for ecological, aesthetic and economic reasons. Individual species and ecosystems have evolved over millions of years into a complex interdependence (Corker 2001). The more habitats and species that are lost, the greater the risk of deterioration of ecosystems globally possibly resulting in significant destruction of the planet. Losing biodiversity also means that species that potentially have great benefits may be lost before they are ever discovered. The extensive, unexploited resource of medicines and chemicals contained in uncultivated species may be lost indefinitely. Vegetation in a tropical rainforest may have unknown numbers of species that may be important for medicine. Many marine species defend themselves chemically and this also represents a rich potential source of new economically important medicines (Noss and Cooperrider 1994). 

Conclusion
There are numerous ways that can prevent, preserve, and recover fragmented habitats to make sure they are suitable for wildlife. Wildlife corridors connect two significant habitats by land bridges or native vegetation that can link the two habitats. This allows animals to move between habitats for resources, breeding, and foraging. Land acquisition is where local, federal or private programs purchase land for habitat preservation. Conservation easements are agreements between landowners and government agencies to prevent commercial or residential developments of critical habitats. Restoration is the process of converting developed land back to its natural state. Mitigation forces developers to create or preserve lands similar in size to lands they impact. Zoning calls for the addition of wildlife and habitat conservation to local development plans. 
Because of the conflicting interests between ecology and human economic benefit, it has become extremely important to find solutions that will create balance between they two. It is important for people to recognize the impacts of biodiversity loss and increased extinction of many species. These impacts must be understood in order to protect habitats and the vast biodiversity they contain. Raising environmental awareness and consciousness through education and public cooperative efforts, as well as implementing resource conservation and changing consumptive patterns, are a few ways that we can begin to protect biodiversity.

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