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Lecture 6

BIOL 1070 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Habitat Fragmentation, Fauna, Rhamnus Cathartica

Course Code
BIOL 1070
Shoshanah Jacobs

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Forest Fragments Assignment – Answer Template
The ‘Forest Fragments’ Assignment is an individual assignment, completed and submitted individually to the
dropbox. Provide your answers below, and submit the file to the online dropbox.
PART I: Summarizing primary literature (8 marks)
1.1 Read the provided paper from the primary literature that discusses the effect of habitat edges (edge
effects), or forest fragmentation on the ecology or diversity of a species. Briefly summarize the paper,
paraphrasing each of the components listed in the Assignment Questions. (6 marks)
The primary topic of research that motivated this study was the impact fragmentation of
forest ecosystems had on the microclimates and ecosystem functions of the forest edge. The
background research prior to beginning this study suggested that human land use has led to
majorities of forests being fragmented increasing solar radiation, wind, air and soil
temperatures, and evaporation rates of edge ecosystems in comparison to interior ecosystems.
Due to these edge effects, environmental factors of moisture and temperature fluctuate which
control leaf litter decomposition. Other influences of decomposers or soil macrofauna indirectly
play an important role in the decomposition process of leaf litter. These species, being sensitive
to altered ecosystem conditions, differ in edge versus interior forest ecosystems. The aim of the
study posed by the researchers was to experimentally investigate soil moisture and
macroarthropod interactions. More specifically, their impact on the decomposition of easily
versus resistant decomposing leaf litter to analyze the consequences forest fragmentation and
edge effects has on ecosystem functions. They hypothesized that decomposition rates will be
lower at the forest edge versus the interior and this effect is induced by decreased levels of soil
moisture at the forest edge. The predicted outcome of this test was that differences in climate
between edge and interior ecosystems would result in contrasting leaf litter decomposition rates.
Furthermore, moisture limitation of the forest edge was predicted to cause the differences in
leaf litter decomposition rates of edge and interior forest fragments. Also, the prediction that
soil macrofauna abundance responds differently to the moisture variability of edge ecosystems
which will influence leaf litter decomposition rates. Lastly, the prediction that soil moisture and
the presence of soil macrofauna influences the response of recalcitrant versus easily
decomposable leaf litter. The results of the study found that decomposition rates were larger in
the interior forest ecosystem versus the edge and is correlated to the low water levels of the
forest edge. They also found that soil macrofauna assisted in speeding up the process of
decomposition but increasing moisture treatments had no effect on increasing the abundance of
1.2 Reference the paper (formatted correctly, following the style in the Written Communication Workshop.
(2 marks)
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