Human disturbances erode the diversity of species resilience strategies

Thomas Merrien, Katrina Davis, Moreno Di Marco, Pol Capdevila, Roberto Salguero-Gomez

Research output: Working paperPreprint


Human activities are drastically reshaping Earth’s ecosystems. Across the tree of life, species become threatened and ultimately go extinct when they are unable to cope with these changes. Hence, understanding the resilience of natural populations is necessary to understand and predict species’ capacity to cope with increasing human pressures. Here, we use high-resolution demographic information for 921 populations of wild plants and animals to assess how they respond to increasing levels of human pressure. We show that fewer successful resilience strategies, allowing population to persist in disturb environments, exist in human-influenced habitats compared to pristine habitats. In contrast, pristine habitats host species with higher resistance and faster recovery than more altered environments. Importantly, the examined macroecologial patterns of demographic resilience are kingdom- and mobility-specific: natural populations of plants recover faster and have a propensity to grow faster after a disturbance (i.e., compensation) in urban areas than in pristine habitats, while these tendencies do not appear in animals. Likewise, populations of animals with limited mobility are less able to resist or compensate for disturbances in human altered environments than highly mobile populations. Our results suggest that human activities have eroded the diversity of natural populations’ resilience strategies. This finding implies that species will be less tolerant to disturbance in the future, as continuing biodiversity loss and increasing human impacts will ultimately shrink the spectrum of resilience strategies of organisms.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Dec 2022
MoE publication typeNot Eligible

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