Our new paper about fragmented species–area relationships is now published at Ecology Letters. This paper tackles the classic ecological question of how many species are lost as a forest or other habitat is destroyed. The question dates back at least to 1921, when Olof Arrhenius published his power-law species–area formula predicting species richness from habitat area, and hence species loss when habitat area shrinks. But Arrhenius’ formula assumes area is the only spatial variable of importance for species richness, ignoring the spatial pattern of habitat fragmentation. Most subsequent approaches to the problem have suffered the same limitation.
In our new paper, we present formulas that facilitate fast and efficient computation of lower and upper bounds on immediate species loss from habitat fragmentation. We apply our formulas to three case studies at different scales: a 50 ha forest plot in Panama, the island of Singapore, and the Amazon. We find that the pattern of habitat fragmentation can have enormous effects on species loss, especially at large scales: in the Amazon case study estimated species loss varies by a factor of 16 across fragmentation scenarios.