Habitat Destruction and Fragmentation - Coastal Wiki (2023)

Fig. 1. Marine habitats in Europe, such as kelp forests, support a wide variety of marine life and are threatened by human activities. Photo © BIOMAR

Information for this article is derived primarily from Airoldi, L., Balata, D., Beck, M.W. 2008. The Gray Zone: Relationships between habitation loss and marine diversity and their applications in conservation. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 366, 8-15

habitatDestruction and fragmentation is a process that describes the emergence of discontinuities (fragmentation) or the loss (destruction) of the environment inhabited by an organism. marineecosystemsare experiencing high rates of habitat loss and degradation, and these processes are considered to be the most critical threat to marine biodiversity[1]. It is estimated that between 1960 and 1995 one kilometer of coastline was built on every day, resulting in permanent loss of valuable habitats such as coastal wetlands,Seegraswiesenandrocky shore [2]. About 20% of the world's coral reefs were lost and another 20% were degraded in the last decades of the 20th century, and about 35% of the mangrove area was lost during that time[3].

(Video) Habitat destruction | Wikipedia audio article

Habitat can be defined as dominant features that create structural complexity in the environment, such as B. Plants (e.g.Seegraswiesen,Seetangwälder) or animals (eg.sabellariareefs, burrowing fauna in sand flats).


  • 1 Habitat Loss and Biodiversity
  • 2 Effects of habitat loss on biodiversity
  • 3 Human activities as drivers of habitat loss
  • 4 Implications for Conservation and Management
  • 5 references

habitat loss and biodiversity

Researchers have identified three main components of habitat loss that relate to biodiversity[4]:

1)The loss of resident species.

There is a unique diversity of plants and animals living in close association with specific habitats or habitat-forming species. For example, invertebrate assemblages associated with mussel beds, epiphytic and epibenthic assemblages, communities living in kelp forests, or fish communities associated with coral reefs. It was predicted that the consequences of habitat loss would likely be much more severe than the loss of individual species, as the ecological interactions between species result in a chain of impacts[4].

Fig. 2. Habitat loss can result in the formation of barren land where few species can survive. Photo © NOAA

(Video) Human Impacts on Biodiversity | Ecology and Environment | Biology | FuseSchool

2)The loss of food resources.

Most biogenic habitats are highly productive compared to simpler habitats. They produce large amounts of nutrients and organic matter that can be used directly as a food source by other organisms. Habitat loss also implies the loss of these food resources, negatively impacting the survival of other species and the productivity of individual species or communities, with more profound effects likely to spread along food chains[4].

3)The loss of ecosystem functions provided by the habitat.

Structurally complex habitats provide a variety of ecosystem functions to the environment, including providing food and shelter for other species, trapping sediment, altering light and hydrodynamic conditions, and providing resilience to the system. When habitats are lost, these functions are lost with them[5][4]. For example, replacing macroalgal canopies with turf affects sediment dynamics on rocky coasts, where fronds prevent sediment accumulation, while turfs tend to trap sediment even on exposed coasts

Impact of habitat loss on biodiversity

Fig. 3. Coral reefs are an important, structurally complex habitat that provide food resources and refuge for many species of fish. Photo © David Balata

(Video) North Sound Riparian Conference 2023

Habitat loss has generally been associated with drastic declines in the overall abundance and diversity of marine organisms. In the Wadden Sea, for example, the destruction of biogenic habitats over the past 2000 years has led to the regional extinction of at least 26 species[6]. Similarly, the loss of seagrass beds leads to a reduction in species number and fish abundance. In general, the environmental changes associated with the destruction of natural habitats encourage the arrival and colonization of opportunistic species that can benefit from disturbed-state conditions. An example is the proliferation of opportunistic short-lived green or turf-forming algae following the destruction or removal of canopy species such as seaweed. Other species that may benefit from disturbed habitats are alien species. Once alien species become established, they can further contribute to reducing local diversity through interaction with native species.

Human activities as drivers of habitat loss

Some anthropogenic activities responsible for habitat destruction include the construction of coastal defenses, land reclamation, aggregate (sand and gravel) extraction, recreation, and developments including ports, ports, and industries. In addition, the growing number of tourists poses a significant threat to many coastal habitats in Europe, which can be disturbed by trampling or direct harvesting. In offshore waters, exploration and development of oil and gas activities threaten marine habitats, mainly through discharges of oil and other pollutants. Physical damage to marine habitats can be caused by fishing activities such asbottom trawling. Deep-sea trawlers use heavy rock-hoppers that are reported to be causing long-term damage to seabed habitats such as cold-water coral reefs in Norwegian, Scottish and Irish waters.

Implications for conservation and management

Habitat loss often leads to species becoming endangered or threatened and eventually to extinction, leading to significant loss of overall diversity and changes in ecosystem functioning. Coastal and marine habitat conservation efforts have been driven in part by the impact of habitat loss on biodiversity decline. However, it is not enough to look at the impact of habitat loss on species richness. Conservation efforts must consider the impact of habitat loss and fragmentation on all components of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning and the services provided by habitats:

Fig. 3. Marine Protected Areas are one of the most effective management tools for protecting vulnerable habitats. Photo © David Balata

(Video) Five Bizarre Places Frogs Call Home
  • Regulatory services such as coastal buffering from storms
  • supply services such as fish production
  • cultural services such as tourism
  • supporting services such as primary production[7].

There is an urgent need to implement long-term and large-scale monitoring programs for changes in marine habitats and species distributions. This monitoring should be coupled with studies designed to treat management measures that result in habitat loss as large-scale experiments. For example the use ofmarine protected areas(MPA) andmarine protected areasas tools to underpin the relationships between habitat functionality and the distribution and abundance of target taxa. According to the Global Biodiversity Assessment[8]Almost everyone agrees that the most effective way to conserve biodiversity is to prevent habitat conversion or degradation.

There is an ongoing debate among conservation biologists about whether it is preferable to protect multiple already fragmented habitats or a single large area, often referred to as the Single Large or Multiple Small (SLOSS) debate.

An important aspect to consider as well is habitatRestoration. On land there is a long tradition of habitat restoration, such as B. Mining dumps. There are some examples of habitat restoration in the marine environment, such as B. the well-publicized Cleanup of the River Thames in Britain, where salmon can now be found in London. The evolving science of restoration ecology should be part of a strategy to conserve coastal biodiversity.


  1. Grau, J.S. 1997. Marine Biodiversity: Patterns, Threats, and Conservation Needs. Biodiversity and Conservation 6, 153-175
  2. Airoldi, L., Beck, W.M. 2007. Loss, Status and Trends for Coastal Marine Habitats in Europe. ocean gr. Marine Biology Annual Review 45, 345-405.
  3. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005. Ecosystems and Human Wellbeing: Synthesis. Island Press, Washington, DC
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Airoldi, L., Balata, D., Beck, M.W. 2008. The gray area: relationships between habitat loss and marine diversity and its application in conservation. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 366, 8-15.
  5. A. Dobson, D. Lodge, J. Alder, GS Cumming, J. Keymer, J. Mcglade, H. Mooney, J.A. Rusak, V. Sala, O. Wolters, Wall, D, Winfree, R, Xenopoulos, MA 2006. Habitat loss, trophic collapse, and decline in ecosystem services. Ecology 87, 1915–1924.
  6. Wolff, W. J. 2000. Causes of extinction in the Wadden Sea, an estuary in the Netherlands. Conservation Biology. 14, 876-885.
  7. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005. Ecosystems and Human Wellbeing: Synthesis. Island Press, Washington, DC
  8. Heywood, VH (ed.) 1995. The Global Biodiversity Assessment. United Nations Environment Program. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 1140 p.
(Video) Habitat fragmentation and metapopulations


What is the coastal habitat destruction? ›

Extreme weather events will lead to coastal habitat loss. Hurricanes and other storms destroy wetlands and other coastal habitats through erosion and flooding, and waves can damage coral reefs. This loss leaves coastal communities more vulnerable to future storms.

What is habitat destruction and fragmentation? ›

Habitat loss generally refers to the decrease in the spatial extent of natural habitat, including forest, grassland, desert, and wetlands [1, 2], whereas habitat fragmentation per se is the breaking apart of habitat after controlling for habitat loss [3].

What are some examples of habitat fragmentation? ›

Fragmentation happens when parts of a habitat are destroyed, leaving behind smaller unconnected areas. This can occur naturally, as a result of fire or volcanic eruptions, but is normally due to human activity. A simple example is the construction of a road through a woodland.

How does habitat fragmentation affect the environment? ›

First, habitat fragmentation causes the non-random loss of species that make major contributions to ecosystem functioning (decreasing sampling effect), and reduces mutualistic interactions (decreasing complementarity effects) regardless of the changes in species richness.

What causes coastal destruction? ›

All coastlines are affected by storms and other natural events that cause erosion; the combination of storm surge at high tide with additional effects from strong waves—conditions commonly associated with landfalling tropical storms—creates the most damaging conditions.

What are 3 causes of coastal erosion? ›

Coastal erosion may be caused by hydraulic action, abrasion, impact and corrosion by wind and water, and other forces, natural or unnatural.

What causes habitat loss and fragmentation? ›

Habitats are degraded when their condition declines due to factors such as pollution, invasive species, and over-utilization of natural resources. Examples include prairies being invaded by woody species such as eastern red cedar and streams being degraded by runoff of sediments and chemicals from adjacent cropland.

What are the main causes of habitat loss and fragmentation? ›

The 'cutting up' of habitats into fragments is mainly caused by agricultural land conversion, urbanization, dams, water diversions, pollution, invasive species and deforestation, but can also be caused by geological processes that slowly alter the layout of the physical environment.

What is habitat destruction Short answer? ›

Habitat destruction is the process through which a natural habitat becomes incapable of supporting its native species. The organisms that used to live in the area have been relocated or destroyed, leading to a reduction in biodiversity and species abundance.

What causes habitat destruction? ›

Habitat loss is a consequence of human activities such as agriculture, urbanization, deforestation, resource extraction, alteration of the sea-floor due to trawling (fishing), or the release of pollutants.

What are the three types of habitat fragmentation? ›

The three main types of habitat loss are habitat destruction, habitat degradation and habitat fragmentation. The effects of habitat loss echo up the food chain and disrupt the entire ecosystem.

What are the 3 major effects habitat fragmentation can have on wildlife? ›

The effects of habitat fragmentation are disruption to organisms that have large territories or who need to travel, increased competition for limited resources, edge-adapted animals spreading into other habitats, and extinction of smaller, vulnerable populations.

How can we prevent habitat fragmentation? ›

Five actions need to be taken in response to habitat fragmentation: in priority order:
  1. Protect existing high-quality wildlife greenspace.
  2. Manage and improve degraded greenspace.
  3. Restore sites of particular value that have been destroyed (such as wetlands)
  4. Improve the permeability of land use between sites.

What species are affected by habitat fragmentation? ›

9 species facing extinction due to habitat loss
  • Indian Elephant. Indian elephants are the first species on our endangered list due to habitat loss. ...
  • Whale. Whales are at the top of the food chain, however in the North Atlantic only 400 exist. ...
  • Mountain Gorilla. ...
  • Black Rhinoceros. ...
  • Sea Turtle. ...
  • Orangutan. ...
  • Red Panda. ...
  • Tiger.
Oct 1, 2020

Does climate change cause habitat fragmentation? ›

Climate change and global food demand could drive a startling loss of up to 23 percent of all natural habitat ranges in the next 80 years, according to new findings published in Nature Communications. Habitat loss could accelerate to a level that brings about rapid extinctions of already vulnerable species.

What is the meaning of coastal habitat? ›

Coastal habitats are those above spring high tide limit (or above mean water level in non-tidal waters) occupying coastal features and characterised by their proximity to the sea, including coastal dunes and wooded coastal dunes, beaches and cliffs.

What are 3 causes of habitat destruction? ›

Habitat degradation: Pollution, invasive species, and disruption of ecosystem processes (such as changing the intensity of fires in an ecosystem) are some of the ways habitats can become so degraded, they no longer support native wildlife.

What are the 3 major threats of coastal ecosystem? ›

The threats to coastal communities include extreme natural events such as hurricanes, coastal storms, tsunamis, and landslides, as well as longer-term risks of coastal erosion and sea level rise.

What is the main cause of habitat destruction? ›

Habitat loss is a consequence of human activities such as agriculture, urbanization, deforestation, resource extraction, alteration of the sea-floor due to trawling (fishing), or the release of pollutants.


1. Irritator - The Petulant Predator
(Henry the PaleoGuy)
2. Habitat fragmentation
(Shomu's Biology)
3. Habitat Fragmentation and viable population
(iy vonne tan)
4. Habitat | Wikipedia audio article
(wikipedia tts)
5. VINwiki's Top 10 McLaren Stories
6. The Next Decade of Animal Extinction


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Rueben Jacobs

Last Updated: 09/22/2023

Views: 5494

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (77 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Rueben Jacobs

Birthday: 1999-03-14

Address: 951 Caterina Walk, Schambergerside, CA 67667-0896

Phone: +6881806848632

Job: Internal Education Planner

Hobby: Candle making, Cabaret, Poi, Gambling, Rock climbing, Wood carving, Computer programming

Introduction: My name is Rueben Jacobs, I am a cooperative, beautiful, kind, comfortable, glamorous, open, magnificent person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.