Stanford University Study: Protecting Wildlife With Human-Altered Landscapes

First Posted: Apr 18, 2014 07:47 PM EDT

With a steadily increasing world population, the issue of protecting wildlife is a concern because more space is being consumed across the globe. Stanford University researchers suggest providing "human-altered landscapes."

As of today, at least 75% of the world's land surface is directed affected by humans, which poses a problem for the ecosystem and the overall safety of various species of wildlife. Currently there are 97 critically endangered, endangered, threatened, vulnerable, or near threatened species throughout the world and that number will continue to increase as time goes on.

The study, "Predicting biodiversity change and averting collapse in agricultural landscapes," was published on April 16 in the journal Nature and coauthored by three Stanford scientists. They projected that half of the Earth's plants and animals will go extinct over the next century due to human activities and the increasing population.

"Until the next asteroid slams into Earth, the future of all known life hinges on people, more than on any other force," said the study's co-author Gretchen Daily in this Stanford University news release.

The authors tested biogeography theories to see if each could support similar bat biodiversity. They included island and agricultural/countryside biogeographies and found that the island habitat conformed to predictions of bat loss and the agriculture/countryside habitat supported a less species-rich bat assemblage. They compared these two with a neotropical countryside ecosystem to show the differences of each.

The researchers discovered that biogeographies could be suitable in providing refuge for wildlife, that management is required to maintain the human-modified habitats, and they can be sustainable. It could also be more effective in helping wildlife because natural environments are littered with chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides, which is detrimental to nature.

The study acknowledges that it's essential to make agricultural lands more hospitable to wildlife because it would lessen the burden in establishing these "human-altered landscapes" that are likely to be costly.

You can read more about the study in this Stanford University news release.

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