Habitat fragmentationisan issue of primary concern in conservation biology. However.both the concepts of habitat and fragmentation are ill-defined and often misused. We review the habitatconcept and examine differences between habitat fragmentation and habitat heterogeneity, and wesuggest that habitat fragmentation is both a state (or outcome) and a process. In addition, we attemptto distinguish between and provide guidelines for situations where habitat loss occurs without frag-mentation, habitat loss occurs with fragmentation, and fragmentation occurs with no habitat loss. Weuse two definitions for describing habitat fragmentation. a general definition and a situational definition(definitions related to specific studies or situations). Conceptually. we define the state of habitat frag-mentation as the discontinuity, resulting from a given set of mechanisms. in the spatial distribution ofresources and conditions present in an area at a given scale that affects occupancy, reproduction, orsurvival in a particular species. We define the process of habitat fragmentation as the set of mechanismsleading to that state of discontinuity.We identify four requisites that we believe should be describedin situational definitions: what is being fragmented. what is the scale of fragmentation, what is theextent and pattern of fragmentation. and what is the mechanism causing fragmentation.
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