Spatiotemporal patterns and ecological consequences of a fragmented landscape created by damming

Guang Hu, Maxwell Wilson, Bing Bing Zhou, Chenwei Shang, Mingjian Yu, Jianguo Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Damming disrupts rivers and destroys neighboring terrestrial ecosystems through inundation, resulting in profound and long-lasting impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem processes far beyond the river system itself. Archipelagos formed by damming are often considered ideal systems for studying habitat fragmentation. Methods: Here we quantified the island attributes and landscape dynamics of the Thousand Island Lake (TIL) in China, which is one of the several long-term biodiversity/fragmentation research sites around the world. We also synthesized the major findings of relevant studies conducted in the region to further ecological understanding of damming and landscape fragmentation. Results: Our results show that the vegetations on islands and the neighboring mainland were both recovering between 1985 and 2005 due to reforestation and natural succession, but the regeneration was partly interrupted after 2005 because of increasing human influences. While major changes in landscape composition occurred primarily in the lakefront areas and near-lakeshore islands, landscape patterns became structurally more complex and fragmented on both islands and mainland. About 80 studies from the TIL region show that the genetic, taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic diversity on these islands were mainly influenced by island area at the patch scale, but fragmentation per se also affected species composition and related ecological processes at patch and landscape scales. In general, islands had lower species diversity but a steeper species-area relationship than the surrounding mainland. Fragmentation and edge effects substantially hindered ecological succession towards more densely vegetated forests on the islands. Environmental heterogeneity and filtering had a major impact on island biotic communities. We hypothesize that there are multiple mechanisms operating at different spatial scales that link landscape fragmentation and ecological dynamics in the TIL region, which beg for future studies. By focusing on an extensive spatiotemporal analysis of the island-mainland system and a synthesis of existing studies in the region, this study provides an important foundation and several promising directions for future studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere11416
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Biodiversity
  • Damming
  • Ecological impacts
  • Habitat loss and fragmentation
  • Landscape dynamics
  • Landscape fragmentation
  • Socioeconomic changes
  • Thousand Island Lake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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