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Social-Ecological Predictors of Global Invasions and Extinctions

Aaron Lotz, University of California, Davis
Craig R. Allen, Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit


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Most assessments of resilience have been focused on local conditions. Studies focused on the relationship between humanity and environmental degradation are rare, and are rarely comprehensive. We investigated multiple social-ecological factors for 100 countries around the globe in relation to the percentage of invasions and extinctions within each country. These 100 countries contain approximately 87% of the world’s population, produce 43% of the world’s per capita gross domestic product (GDP), and take up 74% of the earth’s total land area. We used an information theoretic approach to determine which models were most supported by our data, utilizing an a priori set of plausible models that included a combination of 15 social-ecological variables, each social-ecological factor by itself, and selected social-ecological factors grouped into three broad classes. These variables were per capita GDP, export-import ratio, tourism, undernourishment, energy efficiency, agricultural intensity, rainfall, water stress, wilderness protection, total biodiversity, life expectancy, adult literacy, pesticide regulation, political stability, and female participation in government. Our results indicate that as total biodiversity and total land area increase, the percentage of endangered birds also increases. As the independent variables (agricultural intensity, rainfall, water stress, and total biodiversity) in the ecological class model increase, the percentage of endangered mammals in a country increases. The percentage of invasive birds and mammals in a country increases as per capita GDP increases. As life expectancy increases, the percentage of invasive and endangered birds and mammals increases. Although our analysis does not determine mechanisms, the patterns observed in this study provide insight into the dynamics of a complex, global, social-ecological system.

Key words

biodiversity; endangered species conservation; extinctions; invasions; invasive species management; social-ecological systems

Copyright © 2013 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087