Most species’ declines can be attributed to habitat loss, but there is more to extinction risk than just habitat loss

Picture @JuanRamirez. La Macarena, Colombia

CSL student Juan Pablo Ramírez-Delgado led an international team to measure the relationship between habitat fragmentation, matrix condition and the change in the risk of extinction of 4,426 terrestrial mammals.

The resulting paper, just published in Nature Communications, revealed that the effects of habitat fragmentation on the risk of species extinction are mediated by the condition of the human footprint that persists in the aftermath of habitat destruction, otherwise known as ‘the matrix’.

“We found strong effects of habitat fragmentation and matrix condition on mammal extinction risk” says Ramírez-Delgado. “Our results suggest that in addition to efforts to maintain remaining primary habitat, there is a need to restore habitat in the matrix”.

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