The primary cause of environmental degradation is human disturbance. The degree of the environmental impact varies with the cause, the habitat, and the plants and animals that inhabit it. -------------------------------------------------
Habitat fragmentation carries long term environmental impacts, some of which can destroy entire ecosystems. An ecosystem is a distinct unit and includes all the living and non-living elements that reside within it. Plants and animals are obvious members, but it will also include other components on which they rely on such as streams, lakes, and soils. Habitats become fragmented when development breaks up solid stretches of land. Examples include roads which may cut through forests or even trails which wind through prairies. While it may not sound all bad on the surface, there are serious consequences. The largest of these consequences are initially felt by specific plant and animal communities, most of which are specialized for their bioregion or require large areas of land to retain a healthy genetic heritage. Area Sensitive Animals
Some wildlife species require large stretches of land in order to meet all of their needs for food, habitat, and other resources. These animals are called area sensitive. When the environment is fragmented, the large patches of habitat no longer exist. It becomes more difficult for the wildlife to get the resources they to survive, possibly becoming threatened or endangered. The environment suffers without the animals that play their role in the food web. Aggressive Plant Life
A more critical result of habitat fragmentation is land disturbance. Many weedy plant species, such as garlic mustard and purple loosestrife, are both opportunistic and invasive. A breach in the habitat gives them an opportunity to take hold. These aggressive plants can take over an environment, displacing the native flora. The result is habitat with a single...