Coexistence of large mammals and humans is possible in Europe's anthropogenic landscapes

Elsevier, iScience, Volume 24, 24 September 2021
Cretois B., Linnell J.D.C., Van Moorter B., Kaczensky P., Nilsen E.B., Parada J. et al.
A critical question in the conservation of large mammals in the Anthropocene is to know the extent to which they can tolerate human disturbance. Surprisingly, little quantitative data is available about large-scale effects of human activity and land use on their broad scale distribution in Europe. In this study, we quantify the relative importance of human land use and protected areas as opposed to biophysical constraints on large mammal distribution. We analyze data on large mammal distribution to quantify the relative effect of anthropogenic variables on species' distribution as opposed to biophysical constraints. We finally assess the effect of anthropogenic variables on the size of the species' niche by simulating a scenario where we assumed no anthropogenic pressure on the landscape. Results show that large mammal distribution is primarily constrained by biophysical constraints rather than anthropogenic variables. This finding offers grounds for cautious optimism concerning wildlife conservation in the Anthropocene.