Humans get in the way of mammal movement

phys.org | 1/25/2018 | Staff
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Humans modify natural landscapes in a variety of ways, from constructing expansive cityscapes to fencing off otherwise untouched rangeland. A new study, co-authored by biologists at the University of Maryland, describes the extent to which highly modified landscapes impede the movement of 57 land-based mammal species from around the world. On average, these mammals cover about a third to half of the distance they would otherwise travel in wild, unmodified landscapes.

An international team of more than 100 co-authors published its findings in the January 26, 2018 issue of the journal Science. While many previous studies have examined individual species at local and regional scales, the new work is the first to integrate many species across the globe in a single analysis. According to the researchers, their findings could have far-reaching consequences for ecosystems and, as a result, for human society.

Magnitude - Effects - Reduction - Movement - Scale

"The magnitude of the effects we observed was really surprising. The reduction of movement on a 10-day scale, that percentage drop was just phenomenal. In some cases, we saw a tenfold decrease in movement," said William Fagan, professor and chair of the UMD Department of Biology and a co-author of the study. "This is after accounting for other factors we already know to be important to animal movement, such as body size, diet and available food resources."

Most mammals are on the move every day, searching for food, shelter or a mate. In general, larger mammals like zebra move longer distances, while smaller mammals such as hares cover shorter distances. In this study, the researchers collated GPS-tracked movement data from 803 individual animals representing 57 mammal species from around the globe. They used the data portal, Movebank, which archives movement data from researchers across the world.

Researchers - Movement - Data - Human - Footprint

The researchers then compared these movement data to a metric called the Human Footprint Index, which assigns...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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