Nature in Fragments

Nature in Fragments: The Legacy of Sprawl

Elizabeth A. Johnson
Michael W. Klemens
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 400
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/john12778
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  • Book Info
    Nature in Fragments
    Book Description:

    This new collection focuses on the impact of sprawl on biodiversity and the measures that can be taken to alleviate it. Leading biological and social scientists, conservationists, and land-use professionals examine how sprawl affects species and alters natural communities, ecosystems, and natural processes. The contributors integrate biodiversity issues, concerns, and needs into the growing number of anti-sprawl initiatives, including the "smart growth" and "new urbanist" movements.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50206-1
    Subjects: Environmental Science, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. PART I BIODIVERSITY AND THE GENESIS OF SPRAWL
    • 1 THE CONTEXT AND CAUSES OF SPRAWL
      (pp. 3-17)
      Barbara L. Lawrence

      Americans living in the sprawling twenty-first century face a Three Bears’ dilemma, but with fewer choices: the places where we live, work, and play are too far apart to offer the option of walking from one activity to another, but too close together to move about without regular traffic snarls. Our housing is too expensive for many to own, but too poorly built to survive the turn of the next century. Our open space is too fragmented for wildlife habitat and efficient farming, but abundant enough to attract even more sprawling development.

      Viewed from the air, the curves of cul-de-sacs...

    • 2 THE IMPACTS OF SPRAWL ON BIODIVERSITY
      (pp. 18-54)
      Elizabeth A. Johnson and Michael W. Klemens

      Biological diversity (or biodiversity, for short) is the variety of life on Earth and the interactions, cycles, and processes of nature that link it all together. In its broadest definition, biodiversity includes individual species, the genetic diversity within species, the natural communities in which these species interact, and the ecosystems and landscapes in which species evolve and coexist (Noss and Cooperrider 1994). Although conservation efforts to protect biodiversity tend to focus on unique plants or rare animals, biodiversity actually encompasses all nature, including both common and rare components and even more obscure organisms such as fungi and microbes.

      Humans depend...

  7. PART II SPRAWL, ECOSYSTEMS, AND PROCESSES
    • 3 FRESHWATER WETLAND BIODIVERSITY IN AN URBANIZING WORLD
      (pp. 57-89)
      Nicholas A. Miller and Michael W. Klemens

      Wetland habitats occupy between 4 and 6 percent of the world’s land surface (Mitsch and Gosselink 2000). Despite such minimal coverage, these systems contain a disproportionate amount of the world’s biodiversity and, in particular, the world’s imperiled species. In the United States, wetlands account for only approximately 5.5 percent of all land area (Dahl 2000), but these habitats are required by 50 percent of animals and 28 percent of plants designated as federally endangered or threatened (Niering 1988). In addition to listed species, wetland diversity is supplemented by numerous hydrophytes (i.e., water-tolerant plants) and wildlife that specifically require wetland habitats...

    • 4 ECOSYSTEMS, DISTURBANCE, AND THE IMPACT OF SPRAWL
      (pp. 90-108)
      Seth R. Reice

      Ecologists now recognize that natural events such as fires, floods, and hurricanes are fundamental to ecosystem integrity. These processes can be predictable disruptive events, such as annual flooding and fires that cycle through a forest with relative frequency, or unpredictable and infrequent largescale disturbances, such as earthquakes and volcano eruptions. All are critical to the maintenance of ecosystems and the species these systems support. Sprawling development interferes with these natural disturbance regimes by suppressing or altering them. In addition, sprawl fosters other novel anthropogenic disturbances, such as clearing for home construction, trampling of soil and vegetation, dumping, or vandalism, which...

    • 5 BEES, POLLINATION, AND THE CHALLENGES OF SPRAWL
      (pp. 109-124)
      James H. Cane

      Pollination, broadly defined, is the transfer of pollen within and between compatible flowers. Pollen carries the male nuclei, so pollination is a key step for sexual reproduction by seed plants, the group that dominates Earth’s terrestrial flora. Primary agents of pollination include wind, some birds and bats, and insects, especially bees, but also some kinds of beetles, flies, wasps, moths, and butterflies. Too little is known to generalize about links among sprawl, pollination, and seed set overall, but urban and suburban sprawl does alter ecological features important to pollinators, such as plant community composition and reproductive opportunities. This chapter focuses...

    • 6 EFFECTS OF URBANIZATION ON DECOMPOSER COMMUNITIES AND SOIL PROCESSES IN FOREST REMNANTS
      (pp. 125-143)
      Margaret M. Carreiro

      The past 50 years have witnessed the accelerating spread of cities and suburbs at the expense of agricultural land and natural ecosystems in the contiguous United States. Between 1960 and 1997, 42 million acres (17.1 million hectares) of rural land were converted to urban and suburban land use (Dougherty 1992; Department of Agriculture 2000). The states that have experienced the greatest population growth per unit land area between 1990 and 1996 are in the East, where human settlement is expanding primarily into forested land (Dwyer et al. 2000). Birch, Rachel, and Kern (1997) estimated that as a consequence 25 percent...

    • 7 SPRAWL AND DISEASE
      (pp. 144-154)
      Fred W. Koontz and Peter Daszak

      It is becoming increasingly clear that demographic and anthropogenic environmental changes play a central role in disease ecology in social-ecological systems (Aron and Patz 2001; Daszak, Cunningham, and Hyatt 2001). Urbanization and the inevitable degradation of the environment that ensues disrupt ecosystem processes and ultimately threaten human health and the well-being of all species of animals and plants (Grifo and Rosenthal 1997; Vitousek et al. 1997; Aguirre et al. 2002; Chivian 2002). The link between health and the environment was first described in Hippocrates’s “Air, Water, Places,” in which he discussed the influence of climate, water supply, and sanitation on...

  8. PART III SPRAWL AND SPECIES
    • 8 SPRAWL AND SPECIES WITH LIMITED DISPERSAL ABILITIES
      (pp. 157-180)
      Diane L. Byers and Joseph C. Mitchell

      Many plants and animals have life history strategies that include limited dispersal abilities of adults and offspring. Among plants, many species produce propagules that are dispersed by gravity, and others have their seeds dispersed by animals that may have limited mobility. Such plants may be limited in their geographic distribution because they cannot easily disperse across the landscape, whereas wind-dispersed plant species, which may disperse for greater distances, tend to be more widely distributed. Unlike birds, large mammals, bats, or flying insects, many animals cannot travel long distances. Those with limited ability to disperse include many amphibians, reptiles, small mammals,...

    • 9 SPRAWL AND HIGHLY MOBILE OR WIDE-RANGING SPECIES
      (pp. 181-205)
      Justina C. Ray

      Habitat destruction, through its fragmentation, degradation, or outright loss, is the root cause of species imperilment throughout North America (Wilcove et al. 1998). Since large-scale land clearing began in earnest on the continent around 150 years ago, human-caused habitat loss has been attributed mostly to processes such as agricultural clearing and industrial resource extraction. More recently, human settlement itself has become a culprit as urban and suburban sprawl affects natural areas in even larger concentric rings around cities and towns (National Wildlife Federation 2001). Of interest to wildlife managers and land-use planners alike are the impacts to wildlife communities of...

    • 10 SPECIES THAT BENEFIT FROM SPRAWL
      (pp. 206-236)
      Stephen DeStefano and Elizabeth A. Johnson

      Environmental conditions throughout the world have always been in a state of change. In many cases, such as the uplifting or erosion of mountains, the change is gradual. In the face of gradual change—measured over geologic time—species adapt and evolve. In the face of rapid environmental change, however, there is simply not enough time for many species to adapt. Most species either are preadapted to the conditions brought about by such changes or are extirpated and become locally extinct.

      For any species or community of species to exist in a given environment, the range of environmental conditions must...

  9. PART IV IDENTIFYING AND MEETING THE CHALLENGES OF SPRAWL
    • 11 MAINTAINING CONNECTIVITY IN URBANIZING LANDSCAPES
      (pp. 239-262)
      M.A. Sanjayan and Kevin R. Crooks

      Habitat destruction and fragmentation are principal threats to biodiversity (Wilcove et al. 1998), and fragmentation is virtually inevitable in areas with increasing sprawl (Soulé 1991b). In addition to reducing the total amount of natural habitat available, fragmentation isolates once-contiguous landscapes, thereby impeding movement between previously intermixing plant and animal populations. Small, isolated populations in fragmented systems are particularly vulnerable to extirpation through a combination of demographic, environmental, and genetic factors that interact to create a “vortex” of extinction (Gilpin and Soulé 1986). Although the best option to avoid extinction is to prevent isolation in the first place, we are in...

    • 12 THE ECONOMICS OF BIODIVERSITY IN URBANIZING ECOSYSTEMS
      (pp. 263-283)
      Stephen Farber

      With urban populations increasing at a rate four times that of rural areas, sprawl is becoming a worldwide phenomenon (World Resources Institute 1998). Growing populations, increasing incomes and levels of consumption, and the drawbacks associated with living in dense urban centers create economic forces that both push and pull people away from central cities, yet they remain connected to the urban metropolis economically and culturally. Biodiversity losses, in terms of both species and ecosystem variety, are occurring throughout the world at rates unprecedented in human history (Wilson 1988; Heywood 1995). These losses result from a number of factors, including overharvesting,...

    • 13 CONSERVING BIODIVERSITY THROUGH STATE AND REGIONAL PLANNING
      (pp. 284-312)
      Jessica Wilkinson, Sara Vickerman and Jeff Lerner

      Habitat destruction, degradation, and fragmentation are the most pervasive threats to biological diversity in the United States. All are associated with the growing impacts of poorly planned development, or sprawl, which results in excessive land consumption. The obvious way to curtail the threat of sprawl to biodiversity is through good land-use planning. Land-use planning that keeps sprawl in check is sometimes referred to as smart growth and should help conserve biodiversity. If only it were that simple. Smart growth is growth that fosters economic vitality in community centers while maintaining the rural working and natural landscape. Implementing smartgrowth land-use planning...

    • 14 INTEGRATING CONSERVATION OF BIODIVERSITY INTO LOCAL PLANNING
      (pp. 313-334)
      Jayne Daly and Michael W. Klemens

      Biodiversity losses in both the developed and developing worlds are increasingly a topic of widespread concern. The focus, however, most often is on loss of species, and as a result the general public views biodiversity within the narrow definition of species diversity.

      However, biodiversity is far more than a single population of a species. Instead, it encompasses the range of genetic variation contained within all populations of all species, the ecological communities into which these species are aggregated, and the landscape-scale functions and interactions among those communities. For the purposes of this discussion, ecosystem is broadly defined to include these...

    • 15 BUILDING PUBLIC AWARENESS ABOUT THE EFFECTS OF SPRAWL ON BIODIVERSITY
      (pp. 335-348)
      Cynthia Coffin and Jane Elder

      In a democracy, public engagement is critical for effective social change. Messages that seek to engage the public on growth and land-use issues compete for public attention with many other legitimate concerns and are sometimes lost in the background noise of modern media and our increasingly busy and complex lives. Professional practitioners—from new urbanist developers to regional planners to ecologists—are de facto messengers on issues of sprawl and biodiversity when speaking at a public meeting, talking to reporters, or contributing to a newsletter. These professionals need to ensure that their messages and strategies for communicating on smart growth...

    • 16 CREATING A FRAMEWORK FOR CHANGE
      (pp. 349-362)
      Michael W. Klemens and Elizabeth A. Johnson

      Creating a more scientifically informed land-use paradigm is essential to managing the biodiversity–sprawl interface. Although science can inform us of the dimensions of a problem, it rarely provides the road map required to find our way to a solution to that problem. One of the challenges we face as scientists, planners, and decision makers is bridging the gap between acquiring scientific knowledge and applying that knowledge to create change.

      In this volume and at the conference “Nature in Fragments: The Legacy of Urban Sprawl,” we have focused the attention surrounding the sprawl debate directly onto biodiversity and the interrelated...

  10. INDEX
    (pp. 363-382)