McGill Quoted in Ars Technica Article on Human Land Use Effects on Biodiversity

Brian McGill, an associate professor of ecological modeling at the University of Maine, was quoted in the Ars Technica article, “How human land use is changing the number of species in ecosystems.” According to the article, a group of researchers recently compiled the results of 378 published ecology studies of over 11,000 sites around the world, including observations of almost 27,000 species — vertebrates, invertebrates, and plants. On average, the researchers found that human land use has reduced local biodiversity by nearly 14 percent and reduced the abundance of organisms by almost 11 percent, with results that vary based on location. The authors also noted a couple of recent studies that found no real trend in local biodiversity, including one McGill was involved in. In an accompanying article in Nature, McGill said the study effectively isolates the impacts of land use change from other human impacts. He writes, “It would be odd if the negative effects of land-use change documented by [this study] were exactly counterbalanced, such that the net effect of all types of human impacts averaged out to zero (at the local scale). Yet that might be the most parsimonious explanation for the results across [these] studies. And it might not be so odd if ecological processes strongly regulate local species richness.”