Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 128-155

Human disturbance and natural habitat: a biome level analysis of a global data set

  • Lee HannahAffiliated withConservation International
  • , John L. CarrAffiliated withConservation International
  • , Ali LankeraniAffiliated withConservation International

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This paper presents an analysis of conversion of natural habitat to human use on a global scale. Human disturbance of natural systems is classified in a three-category system and ranked using a Habitat Index based on remaining undisturbed and partially disturbed land. Data is analysed by biome and biogeographic province, allowing identification of the biomes and provinces which have been the most impacted by human activity. Temperate biomes are found to be generally more disturbed than tropical biomes. Four of the top five most disturbed biomes are temperate. Certain biomes and geographic areas stand out as conservation priorities, notably the islands of Southeast Asia, Mediterranean vegetation types, Temperate Broadleaf Forests and Tropical Dry Forests. Areas for which data deficiencies exist are identified.


human disturbance natural habitat biome biogeographic province