Evol Ecol Res 4: 787-810 (2002) Full PDF if your library subscribes.
Predicting future threats to biodiversity from habitat selection by humans
Douglas W. Morris* and Steven R. Kingston
Department of Biology and Faculty of Forestry and the Forest Environment, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario P7B 5E1, Canada
Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
Global biodiversity is threatened by the human use, alteration and destruction of habitat. The distribution of humans among habitats should, as in other animals, be governed by density-dependent feedback on fitness. It should be possible, therefore, to merge human habitat selection – and, perhaps, other adaptive behaviours – with projections of human population size to forecast future threats to biodiversity. We evaluate this deceptively simple postulate by developing a model of human habitat selection. We test it with World Resources Institute (WRI) data and use the resulting pattern to predict threats to biodiversity. Humans select urban over rural habitats in a way that is consistent with an evolutionarily stable strategy of habitat selection. The choice of habitat is modified by per capita energy use. The pattern of habitat use is associated with increased threats to the biodiversity of mammals, birds and higher plants, but not that of reptiles. We use WRI projections of future human populations to predict the anticipated pattern of human habitat use in 2020. We then use the new distribution to calculate changes in threats to biodiversity and rank nations according to their projected threats. African nations rank consistently higher than nations from any other region. Preventive global conservation might, therefore, be most productively concentrated on helping Africa.
Keywords: Africa, biodiversity, birds, conservation, energy, isodar, habitat selection, mammals, urbanization.
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