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Large carnivore expansion in Europe is associated with human population density and land cover changes

Cimatti, Marta and Ranc, Nathan and Benitez-Lopez, Ana and Maiorano, Luigi and Cagnacci, Francesca and Cengic, Mirza and Ciucci, Paolo and Huijbregts, Mark A. J. and Krofel, Miha and Vicente Lopez-Bao, Jose and Selva, Nuria and Andren, Henrik and Bautista, Carlos and Cirovic, Dusko and Hemmingmoore, Heather and Reinhardt, Ilka and Marence, Miha and Mertzanis, Yorgos and Pedrotti, Luca and Trbojević, Igor and Zetterberg, Andreas and Zwijacz-Kozica, Tomasz and Santini, Luca (2021). Large carnivore expansion in Europe is associated with human population density and land cover changes. Diversity and Distributions. 27 , 602-617
[Research article]

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Abstract

Aim: The recent recovery of large carnivores in Europe has been explained as resulting from a decrease in human persecution driven by widespread rural land abandonment, paralleled by forest cover increase and the consequent increase in availability of shelter and prey. We investigated whether land cover and human population density changes are related to the relative probability of occurrence of three European large carnivores: the grey wolf (Canis lupus), the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) and the brown bear (Ursus arctos).Location: Europe, west of 64 degrees longitude.Methods: We fitted multi-temporal species distribution models using >50,000 occurrence points with time series of land cover, landscape configuration, protected areas, hunting regulations and human population density covering a 24-year period (1992-2015). Within the temporal window considered, we then predicted changes in habitat suitability for large carnivores throughout Europe.Results: Between 1992 and 2015, the habitat suitability for the three species increased in Eastern Europe, the Balkans, North-West Iberian Peninsula and Northern Scandinavia, but showed mixed trends in Western and Southern Europe. These trends were primarily associated with increases in forest cover and decreases in human population density, and, additionally, with decreases in the cover of mosaics of cropland and natural vegetation.Main conclusions: Recent land cover and human population changes appear to have altered the habitat suitability pattern for large carnivores in Europe, whereas protection level did not play a role. While projected changes largely match the observed recovery of large carnivore populations, we found mismatches with the recent expansion of wolves in Central and Southern Europe, where factors not included in our models may have played a dominant role. This suggests that large carnivores' co-existence with humans in European landscapes is not limited by habitat availability, but other factors such as favourable human tolerance and policy.

Authors/Creators:Cimatti, Marta and Ranc, Nathan and Benitez-Lopez, Ana and Maiorano, Luigi and Cagnacci, Francesca and Cengic, Mirza and Ciucci, Paolo and Huijbregts, Mark A. J. and Krofel, Miha and Vicente Lopez-Bao, Jose and Selva, Nuria and Andren, Henrik and Bautista, Carlos and Cirovic, Dusko and Hemmingmoore, Heather and Reinhardt, Ilka and Marence, Miha and Mertzanis, Yorgos and Pedrotti, Luca and Trbojević, Igor and Zetterberg, Andreas and Zwijacz-Kozica, Tomasz and Santini, Luca
Title:Large carnivore expansion in Europe is associated with human population density and land cover changes
Series Name/Journal:Diversity and Distributions
Year of publishing :2021
Volume:27
Page range:602-617
Number of Pages:16
Publisher:WILEY
ISSN:1366-9516
Language:English
Publication Type:Research article
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Copyright:Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 106 Biological Sciences (Medical to be 3 and Agricultural to be 4) > Ecology
Keywords:land cover change, multi-temporal distribution models, range expansion, rewilding
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-110356
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-110356
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
DOI10.1111/ddi.13219
Web of Science (WoS)000608260100001
ID Code:22869
Faculty:S - Faculty of Forest Sciences
Department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Ecology
(S) > Dept. of Ecology
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:01 Apr 2021 09:03
Metadata Last Modified:01 Apr 2021 09:11

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