Formation of edge effects
The edge effect is directly related to habitat fragmentation, when fragmentation occurs new borders are formed which increases the edge effect. Fragmentation also breaks habitat continuity and makes it difficult for better reproduction of organisms and genetic variations. The genetic diversity among species is greatly affected. After a habitat undergoes fragmentation, it breaks into smaller different habitats. This can affect the organisms severely. Fragmentation takes place all around the world but its impact varies from place to place. The two main reasons for the formation of edge effects are manmade and natural. Manmade habitat edges can be formed due to the construction of dams, highways, etc. This breaks the continuity of the habitat. The most common natural edge effect is forest fires. They cause the most damage to the environment as well as cause severe species loss .
There are many types of edge effects depending upon the cause of the formation and the distance of the edge effect, the types are as follows: â€¢ Inherent: This is when an edge effect is formed naturally without any external disturbance. The border location is stabilized naturally.
â€¢ Induced: Human activity or natural disasters can cause abrupt changes in habitats and this is called the induced edge effect as the process is initiated by some external disturbances.
â€¢ Narrow: The distance between the two habitats is very less, one habitat end, and the other starts.
â€¢ Convoluted: The border between the two habitats has many turns and edges i.e. it is non-linear.
â€¢ Wide: The transition area from one habitat to the other habitat is large. There is a large well-defined area between the two habitats. The habitats depend upon their respective physical conditions and vegetation. The well-defined piece of land between the two habitats is called an ecotone.
â€¢ Perforated: The border between the two habitats is not uniform and has some gaps which are filled by other habitats.
Consequences of edge effects
Edge effect is the most common reason for the extinction of a species, the formation of edge effects like highways and forest fires can disrupt the species population of a place. Although edge effects favor the appearance of new species that have adapted and evolved to live in the place of disruption, the introduction of these evolved species is a threat to the species already present in the region. These evolved species are very invasive and can maintain their population. These species are quite harmful to the other species as well as the natural balance of the environment. The other consequence of the edge effect is habitat fragmentation. Large areas have large species, when these lands are divided into a smaller group, species requiring large habitats like migratory species are affected the most. Inbreeding and genetic drift also become common resulting in the weakening of the genome. Edge habitats are not an ideal place for organisms to live in due to environmental imbalances.
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