Potential Negative Ecological Effects of Corridors

Nick M. Haddad, Lars A. Brudvig, Ellen I. Damschen, Daniel M. Evans, Brenda L. Johnson, Douglas J. Levey, John L. Orrock, Julian Resasco, Lauren L. Sullivan, Josh J. Tewksbury, Stephanie A. Wagner, Aimee J. Weldon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations

Abstract

Despite many studies showing that landscape corridors increase dispersal and species richness for disparate taxa, concerns persist that corridors can have unintended negative effects. In particular, some of the same mechanisms that underlie positive effects of corridors on species of conservation interest may also increase the spread and impact of antagonistic species (e.g., predators and pathogens), foster negative effects of edges, increase invasion by exotic species, increase the spread of unwanted disturbances such as fire, or increase population synchrony and thus reduce persistence. We conducted a literature review and meta-analysis to evaluate the prevalence of each of these negative effects. We found no evidence that corridors increase unwanted disturbance or non-native species invasion; however, these have not been well-studied concerns (1 and 6 studies, respectively). Other effects of corridors were more often studied and yielded inconsistent results; mean effect sizes were indistinguishable from zero. The effect of edges on abundances of target species was as likely to be positive as negative. Corridors were as likely to have no effect on antagonists or population synchrony as they were to increase those negative effects. We found 3 deficiencies in the literature. First, despite studies on how corridors affect predators, there are few studies of related consequences for prey population size and persistence. Second, properly designed studies of negative corridor effects are needed in natural corridors at scales larger than those achievable in experimental systems. Third, studies are needed to test more targeted hypotheses about when corridor-mediated effects on invasive species or disturbance may be negative for species of management concern. Overall, we found no overarching support for concerns that construction and maintenance of habitat corridors may result in unintended negative consequences. Negative edge effects may be mitigated by widening corridors or softening edges between corridors and the matrix. Other negative effects are relatively small and manageable compared with the large positive effects of facilitating dispersal and increasing diversity of native species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1178-1187
Number of pages10
JournalConservation Biology
Volume28
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Society for Conservation Biology.

Keywords

  • Connectivity
  • Dispersal
  • Disturbance
  • Diversity
  • Edge effects
  • Fragmentation
  • Invasive species

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