Reefs may be fragmented in space existing as one large or several small reefs (see Figure). Similar to reef architecture, where oyster growth and habitat use by transient and resident species may differ based on the amount of edge available, the natural function of reefs may be dependent on landscape-scale patterns and the ability of species to move among a suite of reefs. Restored reefs can be designed to maximize the landscape-scale footprint for a given volume of shell or substrate material, but little is know about the importance of habitat fragmentation to the dynamics of reef systems.

Examples of different reef landscapes for the same amount of shell (photos from M. Posey and T. Alphin).