Experimental Corridors 2018-09-04T13:54:09+00:00

Experimental Corridors

Savannah River Site Corridor Experiment

Savannah River Site corridor projectAt Savannah River Site in South Carolina, experimental patches were cut into a managed forest to test the effects of corridors on plant and animal dispersal, population persistence, and biodiversity. Research using this system is used to separate corridor effects created through increasing connectivity and edge habitat.

The work on corridors at Savannah River Site has shown that corridors: a) increase plant diversity, b) increase plant and animal dispersal, and c) corridor effects on dispersal can be predicted from knowledge of smaller-scale movement behavior of animals, especially near habitat edges.

In separating the effects of edges from the effects of corridors, research has shown that edges can cause birds to nest in places where their nests are more likely to fail, creating ecological traps, and edges can create unsuitable habitat for butterflies, affecting their ability to disperse.

Take a video tour through the Savannah River Site Corridor Experiment.

Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project (B.D.F.F.P)

The BDFFP was created in the late 1970’s in central Brazil, and has been maintained for over three decades to test the role of forest fragmentation on populations, communities, and ecosystems.

Although the experiment was not created to test specifically the role of corridors, it has provided numerous insights into the role of habitat fragmentation and connectivity.

The Metatron

The Metatron is an ecotron dedicated to the study of ecological processes inside semicontrolled environments. Located in France, the Metatron tests theories in spatial ecology, including the role of habitat fragmentation and corridors.

The Metatron is the most controlled experiment for its size. It consists of 48 10×10 m habitat patches that are completely enclosed, allowing control of temperature, sunlight, and humidity. Its corridors are similarly enclosed, allowing detailed tests of the role of corridors on populations and communities.

More than 140 plant species (~50 species per cage) and 123 invertebrate families (~40 invertebrate families per cage) can be found within the enclosures.

Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems (S.A.F.E) Project

The S.A.F.E. Project is one of the largest ecological experiements, located in the rainforests of Malaysian Borneo. The experiment is modeled off the BDFFP, and tests three inter-related responses to habitat fragmentation:

1) It examines ecological changes along a gradient of forest modification, looking at differences in how the ecosystem functions and how species survive in a forest as it becomes lightly logged, heavily logged, fragmented and eventually converted into an oil palm plantation.

2) It relies on experimentally designed forest fragments to investigate how the spatial structure of a landscape can mediate or exacerbate the ecological impacts of logging.

3) It focuses on the role of forest remnants in protecting waterways, investigating how changing the width of the riparian vegetation that shelters permanent streams impacts the quality of water emerging from forests and plantations.