Living On The Edge

How do edge areas impact wildlife?

This trail links a forest and a field, an ecosystem dominated by mature trees and one filled with grasses, wildflowers, shrubs, and small saplings. The biodiversity of plants in this kind of edge area attracts certain kinds of wildlife. Some bird species, like Indigo Buntings, prefer edge areas for nesting and foraging. Predators, like fox and coyote, will hunt in forest edges where an abundance of prey can be found. And deer will browse on grasses in the edge area, where they can quickly take cover in the trees.

Scientists have discovered that if habitats are too fragmented and edges too abrupt, the effect on wildlife can be detrimental. Fortunately, this trail connects a vast woodland through a scrubby buffer to an expansive open area, where efforts are underway to root out non-native plants and to grow more pollinator-friendly native perennials. Given that we now live on the edge of accelerating climate change, more deliberate stewardship has become essential.


William Cronon, “Why Edge Effects?,” October 12, 2019