Nav: Home

Where humans set up camp, animals roam much shorter distances

January 25, 2018

In areas with high levels of human activity, mammal movements can be reduced by as much as three-fold, a new study reports. Restricted movement holds implications not only for the individual animals affected, but also for whole ecosystems if ecological interactions and the distribution of nutrients are also altered. Currently 50 to 70% of the land on Earth is modified by human activities. To better understand the impact of these alterations, Marlee A. Tucker et al. analyzed a GPS-tracking database of 803 individual organisms across 57 species, comparing their movements to the Human Footprint Index (HFI). The HFI captures multiple indicators of human activity, including the extent of built environments, cropland, pasture land, human population density, nighttime lights, railways, roads, and navigable waterways. The researchers found that, on average, mammal movement was about 6.6 kilometers in areas with a high human footprint, compared to 21.5 kilometers in areas with a low human footprint. Of note, reduced movement was particularly evident when animals were tracked for longer periods of time, suggesting that humans are altering animals' ranging behavior and area use over longer time scales, rather than altering their travel speeds. The researchers used modeling to explore whether individuals alter their movements relative to the human footprint, or whether certain species that exhibit long-range movement simply do not enter areas of high human activity; their results suggest that both factors play a role. In addition to the human footprint effect, body mass, dietary guild, and resource availability were also related to movement distances, the authors report.
-end-


American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Species Articles:

Two new species of orchids discovered in Okinawa
Two new species of parasitic plants have been discovered on the main island of Okinawa, Japan, and named Gastrodia nipponicoides and Gastrodia okinawensis.
Cornering endangered species
Geographic areas occupied by certain species shrink as they decline in abundance, leaving them more vulnerable to extinction by harvest.
New species of Brazilian copepod suggests ancient species diversification and distribution
A new species and genus of a tiny freshwater copepod has been found in the Brazilian rocky savannas, an ecosystem under heavy anthropogenic pressure.
Redefining 'species'
What is a species? Biologists -- and ornithologists in particular -- have been debating the best definition for a very long time.
New species discovered in Antarctica
A team of Japanese scientists has discovered a new species of polychaete, a type of marine annelid worm, 9-meters deep underwater near Japan's Syowa Station in Antarctica, providing a good opportunity to study how animals adapt to extreme environments.
Genomic tools for species discovery inflate estimates of species numbers, U-Michigan biologists contend
Increasingly popular techniques that infer species boundaries in animals and plants solely by analyzing genetic differences are flawed and can lead to inflated diversity estimates, according to a new study from two University of Michigan evolutionary biologists.
Common US snake actually 3 different species
New research reveals that a snake found across a huge swath of the Eastern United States is actually three different species.
The origins of Cuban species
An international research team suggests the endangered Cuban solenodon evolved after the extinction of dinosaurs.
New rare species of whale identified
Researchers have identified a new rare species of beaked whale with a range in the remote North Pacific Ocean.
Unusual new zoantharian species is the first described solitary species in over 100 years
A very unusual new species of zoantharian was discovered by two researchers in Okinawa.

Related Species Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Bias And Perception
How does bias distort our thinking, our listening, our beliefs... and even our search results? How can we fight it? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas about the unconscious biases that shape us. Guests include writer and broadcaster Yassmin Abdel-Magied, climatologist J. Marshall Shepherd, journalist Andreas Ekström, and experimental psychologist Tony Salvador.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#513 Dinosaur Tails
This week: dinosaurs! We're discussing dinosaur tails, bipedalism, paleontology public outreach, dinosaur MOOCs, and other neat dinosaur related things with Dr. Scott Persons from the University of Alberta, who is also the author of the book "Dinosaurs of the Alberta Badlands".