Edges are presumed to have deleterious consequences for the organisms that remain in forest fragments. However, there is substantial discrepancy among recent studies about the existence and intensity of edge effects. Most studies have focused on seeking simplistic and static patterns. Very few have tested mechanistic hypotheses or explored the factors that modulate edge effects. Consequently,studies are very site-specifci and their results cannot be generalized to produce a universal theory of edges. Although estimates of the intensity and impact of edge effects in fragmented forests are urgently required, little can be done to ameliorate edge effects unless their mechanics are better understood. Copyright © 1995. Published by Elsevier Ltd.