In urban areas, continuing fragmentation of natural habitat, disturbance, and increasing isolation of individual ‘habitat islands’, has brought on almost general reduction in species richness. Sensitive species are being replaced by aggressive synanthropic ones. Continued loss seems inevitable, but reducing the rate of that loss is a worthwhile conservation goal. It is imperative that the numerous and varied habitats within each urban area be considered as interrelated and not as separate units. Island biogeography models supply the means for unifying the disparate elements in urban ecological studies and can provide a useful strategy for conservation.
It is difficult to define colonization, extinction, and equilibrium, in disturbed, often transient, urban habitats. Pseudo- and successional turnover dominate. The occupation of each ‘habitat island’ is a function of its own geography and of its position relative to other ‘islands’. Each habitat may serve as isolated ‘island’, ‘stepping-stone’, or ‘corridor’, depending on its spatial relationships with other ‘habitat islands’ and with the nature of each organism present.
‘Habitat islands’ in small cities appear to function like large or near oceanic islands, while those in large cities seem to respond like small or distant oceanic islands. In all cases, the analogy with land-bridge islands is appropriate. Continuing urbanization is leading to reduced ‘habitat island’ size, and increasing the isolation of units from one another and from the surrounding rural ‘reservoir’.