A global model of the response of tropical and sub-tropical forest biodiversity to anthropogenic pressures

T. Newbold, L. N. Hudson, H. R. P. Phillips, S. L. L. Hill, S. Contu, I. Lysenko, A. Blandon, S. H. M. Butchart, H. L. Booth, J. Day, A. De Palma, M. L. K. Harrison, L. Kirkpatrick, E. Pynegar, A. Robinson, J. Simpson, G. M. Mace, J. P. W. Scharlemann, A. Purvis

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184 Citations (Scopus)


Habitat loss and degradation, driven largely by agricultural expansion and intensification, present the greatest immediate threat to biodiversity. Tropical forests harbour among the highest levels of terrestrial species diversity and are likely to experience rapid land-use change in the coming decades. Synthetic analyses of observed responses of species are useful for quantifying how land use affects biodiversity and for predicting outcomes under land-use scenarios. Previous applications of this approach have typically focused on individual taxonomic groups, analysing the average response of the whole community to changes in land use. Here, we incorporate quantitative remotely sensed data about habitats in, to our knowledge, the first worldwide synthetic analysis of how individual species in four major taxonomic groups—invertebrates, ‘herptiles’ (reptiles and amphibians), mammals and birds—respond to multiple human pressures in tropical and sub-tropical forests. We show significant independent impacts of land use, human vegetation offtake, forest cover and human population density on both occurrence and abundance of species, highlighting the value of analysing multiple explanatory variables simultaneously. Responses differ among the four groups considered, and—within birds and mammals—between habitat specialists and habitat generalists and between narrow-ranged and wide-ranged species.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20141371
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society
Issue number1792
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2014


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