People and Biodiversity Linked. (Journal Extracts)

By Davidson, Steve | Ecos, April-June 2003 | Go to article overview
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People and Biodiversity Linked. (Journal Extracts)


Davidson, Steve, Ecos


PERHAPS unexpectedly, recent reports have indicated a positive correlation between human population density and species richness across the tropics. That is, people and biodiversity coincide.

When Dr Miguel Araujo of the University of Evora, Portugal, investigated this in Europe, his results also provided some support for the suggestion of a positive relationship between human density and biodiversity in that part of the world, but with some important exceptions.

His broad-scale, statistical analyses reveal positive correlations between human population density and plant, mammal, and reptile/amphibian species richness. Contrary to previous studies, the correlation between people and breeding bird species richness was weak. Combined European endemic species richness increased with human density, but two other measures of endemism did not. What do the findings mean and what are the implications for conservation?

These patterns could be accidental, says Araujo. But the similarities between the European and African results support the possibility that mechanisms causing an area to be suitable for people, say climatic stability, seem to make it suitable for many other species. Or, some kind of human actions might somehow boost total numbers of species per unit area, for example due to landscape heterogeneity.

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