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Human disturbance causes widespread disruption of animal movement

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Disturbance and habitat modification by humans can alter animal movement, leading to negative impacts on fitness, survival and population viability. However, the ubiquity and nature of these impacts across diverse taxa has not been quantified. We compiled 208 studies on 167 species from terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems across the globe to assess how human disturbance influences animal movement. We show that disturbance by humans has widespread impacts on the movements of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and arthropods. More than two-thirds of 719 cases represented a change in movement of 20% or more, with increases in movement averaging 70% and decreases −37%. Disturbance from human activities, such as recreation and hunting, had stronger impacts on animal movement than habitat modification, such as logging and agriculture. Our results point to a global restructuring of animal movement and emphasize the need to reduce the negative impacts of humans on animal movement.

Author(s): Doherty et al


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