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  • Brendan A. Wintle
    University of Melbourne
  • Heini Kujala
    University of Melbourne
  • Amy Whitehead
    University of Melbourne
  • Alison Cameron
  • Sam Veloz
    Point Blue Conservation Science
  • Aija Kukkala
    University of Helsinki
  • Atte Moilanen
    University of Helsinki
  • Ascelin Gordon
    RMIT University, Melbourne
  • Pia E. Lentini
    University of Melbourne
  • Natasha C. R. Cadenhead
    University of Melbourne
  • Sarah A. Bekessy
    RMIT University, Melbourne

Island biogeography theory posits that species richness increases with island size and decreases with isolation. This logic underpins much conservation policy and regulation, with preference given to conserving large, highly connected areas, and relative ambivalence shown toward protecting small, isolated habitat patches. We undertook a global synthesis of the relationship between the conservation value of habitat patches and their size and isolation, based on 31 systematic conservation planning studies across four continents. We found that small, isolated patches are inordinately important for biodiversity conservation. Our results provide a powerful argument for redressing the neglect of small, isolated habitat patches, for urgently prioritizing their restoration, and for avoiding simplistic application of island biogeography theory in conservation decisions.


  • Zonation, irreplaceability, complementarity, fragmentation, conservation, biodiversity
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)909-914
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number3
Early online date10 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2019

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