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An Assessment of Assemblage Nestedness in Habitat Fragments

This experiment illustrates how ecological theory can help conserve native species in a
fragmented landscape. It is germane to units on biogeography, human impacts on
ecosystems, landscape ecology, conservation, and restoration. During the first lab, the
instructor introduces the process of habitat fragmentation, the degree to which species
in species-poor assemblages are proper subsets of species-rich assemblages (i.e.,
degree of nestedness), the possible relationships between fragmentation and
nestedness, and identification of common breeding bird species in regional forest
fragments. Between the first two labs, students practice bird identification, read about
the general effects of fragmentation on bird populations and communities, and consider
whether bird assemblages might be nested by specific attributes of habitat fragments.
During subsequent labs and out of class time, student groups survey breeding birds in
forest fragments, perform a statistical analysis, and assess the relative merits of the
alternative hypotheses. Student groups complete the experiment by presenting scientific
research posters
Primary or BEN resource type
Discipline Specific Core Concepts
Life science discipline (subject)
Keywords alien species, assemblages, biodiversity, correlation versus causation, data analysis, assessment, background knowledge
Intended End User Role
Educational Language
Primary Author Controlled Name
Primary Author Affiliation Oglethorpe University
Atlanta, GA 3031
Primary Author email
Rights TIEE, Volume 6 © 2009 – Roarke Donnelly and the Ecological Society of America. Teaching Issues and
Experiments in Ecology (TIEE) is a project of the Education and Human Resources Committee of the
Ecological Society of America (
Date Of Record Submission 2011-03-14

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