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I study the effects of landscape structure on abundance, distribution and persistence of organisms. Landscape structure includes the amounts of various kinds of land cover in a landscape (e.g., forest, wetland, roads), and the spatial arrangement of these cover types. Landscape structure affects populations through its effects on reproduction, mortality, and movement. Since landscape structure is strongly affected by human activities such as forestry, agriculture, and development, the results of this research are relevant to land-use decisions. A particular focus in my lab is on the effects of roads and traffic on wildlife populations. We use a combination of spatial simulation modelling and field studies on a wide range of different organisms.
My main research questions include:
- What is the minimum amount of habitat required in a landscape for persistence of a population, and what determines that minimum?
- What are the effects of roads on distribution and persistence of populations, which species are most vulnerable to roads, what road patterns are least damaging to wildlife populations, and how can population-level effects of roads be mitigated?
- How can agricultural landscapes be structured to increase or maintain high biodiversity without compromising agricultural output?
- Under what circumstances does the breaking apart (fragmentation) of habitat affect population persistence?
- How does landscape heterogeneity affect population persistence and species richness?
- How does dispersal behaviour of an organism affect its response to landscape structure?
- What is the role of connectivity (the degree to which a landscape permits movement of organisms across it) in population persistence?
When is a Landscape Ecology Perspective important? [PDF] (An essay by Lenore Fahrig)