Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

Richard E. Toth


Richard E. Toth


The United States Environmental Protection Agency (2001) reports that habitat destruction is the main factor responsible for species endangerment. Trends in land use and expansion of urban areas into adjacent open space will continue to consume land and fragment or destroy habitat (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency , 2001). Studies have shown that habitat loss negatively impacts overall species abundance and reduces biodiversity (Andren, 1997; Fischer & Lindenmayer, 2007; Hansen et al., 2005; McKinney, 2002; Pimm & Raven, 2000; Sole, Alonso, & Saldafia, 2004, and others). Habitat destruction and fragmentation are believed to be core causes for biodiversity decline, although species' responses to fragmentation differs (Debinski & Holt, 2000; Forman & Alexander, 1998). Reasons for desiring to protect biodiversity range from moral to ecological to economic (Ehrlich & Daily, 1993; Spash & Hanley, 1995; Tilman, 2000). Ehrlich (1993) asserts that preservation of habitat and protection from fragmentation is the critical policy prescription for biodiversity preservation and ecosystem functions. Effective, systematic conservation includes efficient use of limited resources toward goals, and defensibility and flexibility when faced with competing land uses (Margules & Pressey, 2000).