Global effects of land use on local terrestrial biodiversity

Tim Newbold, Lawrence N. Hudson, Samantha L.L. Hill, Sara Contu, Igor Lysenko, Rebecca A. Senior, Luca Börger, Dominic J. Bennett, Argyrios Choimes, Ben Collen, Julie Day, Adriana De Palma, Sandra Díaz, Susy Echeverria-Londoño, Melanie J. Edgar, Anat Feldman, Morgan Garon, Michelle L.K. Harrison, Tamera Alhusseini, Daniel J. IngramYuval Itescu, Jens Kattge, Victoria Kemp, Lucinda Kirkpatrick, Michael Kleyer, David Laginha Pinto Correia, Callum D. Martin, Shai Meiri, Maria Novosolov, Yuan Pan, Helen R.P. Phillips, Drew W. Purves, Alexandra Robinson, Jake Simpson, Sean L. Tuck, Evan Weiher, Hannah J. White, Robert M. Ewers, Georgina M. MacE, Jörn P.W. Scharlemann, Andy Purvis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human activities, especially conversion and degradation of habitats, are causing global biodiversity declines. How local ecological assemblages are responding is less clear - a concern given their importance for many ecosystem functions and services. We analysed a terrestrial assemblage database of unprecedented geographic and taxonomic coverage to quantify local biodiversity responses to land use and related changes. Here we show that in the worst-affected habitats, these pressures reduce within-sample species richness by an average of 76.5%, total abundance by 39.5% and rarefaction-based richness by 40.3%. We estimate that, globally, these pressures have already slightly reduced average within-sample richness (by 13.6%), total abundance (10.7%) and rarefaction-based richness (8.1%), with changes showing marked spatial variation. Rapid further losses are predicted under a business-as-usual land-use scenario; within-sample richness is projected to fall by a further 3.4% globally by 2100, with losses concentrated in biodiverse but economically poor countries. Strong mitigation can deliver much more positive biodiversity changes (up to a 1.9% average increase) that are less strongly related to countries' socioeconomic status.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-50
Number of pages6
Issue number7545
StatePublished - 2 Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

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© 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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