Remember the matrix! (no habitat is an island)

sichuan_landscapeConservation of biodiversity requires the conservation of habitat, and for a long time, this has meant preserving the largest possible “pristine” habitats and excluding humans. Now that humans have fragmented most of earth’s landscapes into mosaics that combine croplands, settlements, and remaining wilder and recovering habitats, the task of conserving or restoring large, unbroken wildlands is daunting, and often impossible.

In response to a recent article on habitat areas and animal populations by Prugh et al. (2008), Jerry Franklin and David Lindenmayer (2009) emphasize (as others have) that conserving and managaing the matrix of landscapes – the areas in between the “habitats”- may be just as important or even more important than managing and conserving the remaining habitats themselves. This means that conservation efforts have to go beyond excluding humans, and towards increasing the habitat value of our managed landscapes, including agricultural and even urban habitats. In other words- Remember the matrix!

Read the paper by Prugh et al. (open):


Franklin, J. F., and D. B. Lindenmayer. 2009. Importance of matrix habitats in maintaining biological diversity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106:349-350.
Prugh, L. R., K. E. Hodges, A. R. E. Sinclair, and J. S. Brashares. 2008. Effect of habitat area and isolation on fragmented animal populations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105:20770–20775.