How is human behaviour impacting wildlife movement? - Göttingen University

Deer standing in a meadow (Conservation Biogeography, Humboldt-University Berlin)
Photo: Conservation Biogeography, Humboldt-University Berlin

For species to survive in the wild, maintaining connectivity between populations is critical. Without ‘wildlife corridors’, groups of animals are isolated, unable to breed and may die out. In assessing wildlife connectivity, many aspects of the landscape are measured, but the impact of human behaviour has largely been overlooked. Now, an international team led by the University of Göttingen and Humboldt University Berlin, introduce the concept of ‘anthropogenic resistance’, which should be studied to ensure sustainable landscapes for wildlife and people for the future. Their perspective article was published in the journal One Earth.

Landscapes around the world are increasingly affected by rapid urbanization, deforestation and similar developments driven by human activity. So far, data collection has largely focused on measuring properties of the land – such as agriculture, urbanization, forestland, crops, or elevation. Other impacts from people are usually lumped together in categories such as population density, or distance from settlements or roads. The researchers propose that it is not merely the presence, absence, or number of people, but what the people are actually doing which affects wildlife movement. In fact, a range of psychological and socioeconomic factors can play a part in ‘anthropogenic resistance’. Some examples of these factors include hunting, poaching or supplementary feeding.

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