How is human behavior impacting wildlife movement?

January 29, 2021

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.

For their study, the researchers looked at three case studies in detail: wolves in Washington State; leopards in Iran; and large carnivores in central India. The same concept can be applied to other species: for example the Eurasian lynx, which are returning to their historical ranges; or roe deer who use croplands for both shelter and food but reduce their presence during the hunting season. In some parts of the world, cultural and religious beliefs can result in the tolerance of large carnivores, such as tigers and lions, despite substantial livestock losses and threats to human life. The researchers considered effects from beliefs, values and traditions to wildlife in different areas. The authors claim these nuanced differences in human behaviour strongly determine where wildlife may move and persist in a landscape.

Professor Niko Balkenhol, from Wildlife Sciences at the University of Göttingen, explains, "Anthropogenic resistance is also relevant to the BearConnect project, which aims to understand the factors that determine connectivity in European populations of the brown bear. Bears are capable of moving across huge distances, as shown by bear JJ1, better known as 'Bruno', who travelled from the Italian Trento region all the way to Bavaria, where he was shot. It is important to note that, although Bruno was able to cross the physical landscape, he was stopped by the severe 'anthropogenic resistance' provided by humans who could not tolerate his behaviour."

"Our paper shows that 'anthropogenic resistance' is an important piece of the puzzle for connectivity-planning to ensure the functionality of corridors for wildlife and people," says Dr Trishna Dutta, senior author of the study, also from Wildlife Sciences at the University of Göttingen. Dutta goes on to say: "It reveals that there are advantages for social and natural scientists to collaborate in understanding the effects of 'anthropogenic resistance' in future studies."
Original publication: Arash Ghoddousi et al. Anthropogenic resistance: accounting for human behavior in wildlife connectivity planning. One Earth (2021). Doi: 10.1016/j.oneear.2020.12.003 (weblink:


Dr Trishna Dutta
University of Göttingen
Wildlife Sciences
Büsgenweg 3, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
Tel: +49 (0)551-39-33583

Professor Niko Balkenhol
University of Göttingen
Wildlife Sciences
Büsgenweg 3, 37077 Göttingen, Germany

University of Göttingen

Related Behaviour Articles from Brightsurf:

Infection by parasites disturbs flight behaviour in shoals of fish
Shoal behaviour in fish is an important strategy for them to safeguard their survival.

The influence of social norms and behaviour on energy use
People tend to conform to what others do and what others regard as right.

Brainstem neurons control both behaviour and misbehaviour
A recent study at the University of Helsinki reveals how gene control mechanisms define the identity of developing neurons in the brainstem.

Couples can show linked behaviour in terms of risk factors to prevent type 2 diabetes
New research being presented at this year's Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), held online this year, shows that when one half of a couple shows high levels of certain behaviours that prevent type 2 diabetes, such as good diet or exercise, that behaviour also tends to be high in the other half of the couple.

Addicted to the sun? Research shows it's in your genes
Sun-seeking behaviour is linked to genes involved in addiction, behavioural and personality traits and brain function, according to a study of more than 260,000 people led by King's College London researchers.

Less flocking behavior among microorganisms reduces the risk of being eaten
When algae and bacteria with different swimming gaits gather in large groups, their flocking behaviour diminishes, something that may reduce the risk of falling victim to aquatic predators.

Vibes before it bites: 10 types of defensive behaviour for the false coral snake
The False Coral Snake (Oxyrhopus rhombifer) may be capable of recognising various threat levels and demonstrates ten different defensive behaviours, seven of which are registered for the first time for the species.

Unwanted behaviour in dogs is common, with great variance between breeds
All dog breeds have unwanted behaviour, such as noise sensitivity, aggressiveness and separation anxiety, but differences in frequency between breeds are great.

The Lancet Psychiatry: Life-course-persistent antisocial behaviour may be associated with differences in brain structure
Individuals who exhibit life-course-persistent antisocial behaviour - for example, stealing, aggression and violence, bullying, lying, or repeated failure to take care of work or school responsibilities - may have thinner cortex and smaller surface area in regions of the brain previously implicated in studies of antisocial behaviour more broadly, compared to individuals without antisocial behaviour, according to an observational study of 672 participants published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal.

World-first studies reveal occurrence of 'chew and spit' eating behaviour
A landmark study into the prevalence of the disordered eating behaviour known as 'chew and spit' has revealed concerning levels of such episodes among teenagers.

Read More: Behaviour News and Behaviour Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to