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Christina M. Kennedy
Senior Scientist
Development by Design Program
The Nature Conservancy
Does the Matrix Matter?: Testing the Influence of Matrix Type on Bird Responses to Forest Fragmentation

In this case study, students apply principles of landscape ecology, experimental design, and data interpretation to examine alternative explanations for how birds respond to forest fragmentation and landscape matrix. Using an interrupted format, the case introduces key terms of landscape ecology and then asks students to brainstorm ways to test for responses to land cover and land use in the matrix (in this context, the matrix is defined as lands surrounding remnant forest patches). Students also interpret select results from a recent study of neotropical birds in Jamaica (published in Ecological Monographs) and identify conservation implications. As written the case can be used in ecology courses with a unit on landscape ecology or in upper-division conservation or landscape ecology courses.