Considerable attention has been given lately to the effects of habitat fragmentation and destruction on wildlife. Here, we summarize their effects on animal abundance and plant cover during a three-year study period (1987- 90) of the sand dunes of the coastal plain of Israel. Populations of the gray monitor Varanus griseus, the spur-thighed tortoise Testudo graeca, and the mountain gazelle Gazella gazella in the study area declined markedly and plant cover increased significantly. Habitat destruction and fragmentation, introduced animals (especially dogs and carrion crows), a continuing change in the native herbivore fauna, and blockage of wind-borne sand are all believed to be responsible for the observed changes. We recommend that small areas, unsuitable for full protection, be declared "city reserves," to be used for educational and recreational purposes. Nature reserves need to be managed in order to maintain the existing fauna and flora.