» Fragmented landscapes

Islands on the Edge: Housing Development and Other Threats to America's Pacific and Caribbean Island Forests (2014)

This report provides an overview of expected housing density changes and related impacts to private forests on America’s islands in the Pacific and Carribbean, specifically Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The vulnerability of island forests to conversion for housing development, introduction and spread of invasive species, and risk of uncharacteristic wildfire, among other concerns are discussed. The maps and projections suggest that in localized areas from 3 to 25 percent of private forest land is likely to experience a substantial increase in housing density from 2000 to 2030. Resource managers, developers, community leaders, and landowners should consider the impacts of housing development and invasive species on ecosystem services in coming decades. Read More

Threats to At-Risk Species in America's Private Forests: A Forests on the Edge Report

America’s private forests harbor thousands of species – from butterflies, bears, birds and bats; to salmon, snails and salamanders that inhabit streams and wetlands; to flowers, trees and shrubs that feed and protect wildlife and enrich human lives. Many native animals and plants found in private forests nationwide are at risk of decline or extinction, in part because of impacts of increasing housing development. The effects of development on at-risk species on private forests are intensified by additional impacts from fire, insects and disease. Read More

Thresholds in Avian Communities at Multiple Scales: RelationshipsBetween Birds, Forests, Habitats, and Landscapes in the Ray Roberts Greenbelt, Denton

Environmental management agencies make efforts to reduce pollution loading in streams and rivers by promoting vegetated buffer zones between human activity and water. Most of these efforts do not mesh water quality-based buffer zone width requirements with conservation and wildlife values, specifically, the use of these riparian forest corridors for wildlife dispersal between habitats in highly fragmented landscapes. Forest interior birds are of the most concern to management in riparian forests due to their population declines across much of their breeding range. This dissertation investigates the role that landscape-level and habitat-level factors play on the presence of breeding birds in riparian forests, particularly the landscape and habitat factors that are influenced by human-caused fragmentation. This study describes research at the Ray Roberts Greenbelt, Denton, Texas, that explores the relationships between the landscape and forest habitats of the Greenbelt with its breeding bird community. The major findings of this study are that bird communities in the corridor forests are associated with a greater array of factors than are bird communities in patches, suggesting that the birds of patch forests are somewhat insulated from landscape-scale effects. Also, habitat values can be maintained in corridors, but there does not seem to be a significant relationship between the bird communities and the habitat. Forest factors are the primary influences (as inferred from the number of associations and the relative strength of these associations) on the bird communities of the Ray Roberts Greenbelt. Thresholds of richness or abundance in the amount of forest as compared with the forest interior bird community suggest that patches are better than corridors to support this community, and that the more interior forest available, the better for forest interior birds. The suggested minimum amount of forest derived from these thresholds is 35% of the amount of forest within 1 kilometer of any given part of the Greenbelt. Thresholds in forest width for avian communities suggest a minimum width of 200 m for any corridor. Thresholds in distance from interior forest suggest that the forest interior bird community can be best supported by shorter corridors that connect larger patches, with a suggested maximum corridor length of 125 m. Read More


EERL's mission is to be the best possible online collection of environmental and energy sustainability resources for community college educators and for their students. The resources are also available for practitioners and the public.


EERL is a product of a community college-based National Science Foundation Center, the Advanced Technology Environmental and Energy Center (ATEEC), and its partners.

Contact ATEEC 563.441.4087 or by email ateec@eicc.edu