Causes and consequences of habitat fragmentation in river networks.
Increases in river fragmentation globally threaten freshwater biodiversity. Rivers are fragmented by many agents, both natural and anthropogenic. We review the distribution and frequency of these major agents, along with their effects on connectivity and habitat quality. Most fragmentation research has focused on terrestrial habitats, but theories and generalizations developed in terrestrial habitats do not always apply well to river networks. For example, terrestrial habitats are usually conceptualized as two-dimensional, whereas rivers often are conceptualized as one-dimensional or dendritic. In addition, river flow often leads to highly asymmetric effects of barriers on habitat and permeability. New approaches tailored to river networks can be applied to describe the network-wide effects of multiple barriers on both connectivity and habitat quality. The net effects of anthropogenic fragmentation on freshwater biodiversity are likely underestimated, because of time lags in effects and the difficulty of generating a single, simple signal of fragmentation that applies to all aquatic species. We conclude by presenting a decision tree for managing freshwater fragmentation, as well as some research horizons for evaluating fragmented riverscapes.
Fuller, MR; Doyle, MW; Strayer, DL
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