Habitat destruction is the process by which natural habitat becomes incapable of supporting its native species. In this process, the organisms that previously used the site are displaced or destroyed, reducing biodiversity. Habitat destruction by human activity is mainly for the purpose of harvesting natural resources for industrial production and urbanization. Clearing habitats for agriculture is the principal cause of habitat destruction. Other important causes of habitat destruction include mining, logging, trawling, and urban sprawl. Habitat destruction is currently ranked as the primary cause of species extinction worldwide. It is a process of natural environmental change that may be caused by habitat fragmentation, geological processes, climate change or by human activities such as the introduction of invasive species, ecosystem nutrient depletion, and other human activities.
In the simplest term, when a habitat is destroyed, the plants, animals, and other organisms that occupied the habitat have a reduced carrying capacity so that populations decline and extinction becomes more likely. Perhaps the greatest threat to organisms and biodiversity is the process of habitat loss. Temple (1986) found that 82% of endangered bird species were significantly threatened by habitat loss. Most amphibian species are also threatened by habitat loss, and some species are now only breeding in modified habitat. Endemic organisms with limited ranges are most affected by habitat destruction, mainly because these organisms are not found anywhere else within the world, and thus have less chance of recovering. Many endemic organisms have very specific requirements for their survival that can only be found within a certain ecosystem, resulting in their extinction. Extinction may also take place very long after the destruction of habitat, a phenomenon known as extinction debt. Habitat destruction can also decrease the range of certain organism populations. This can result in the reduction of genetic diversity and perhaps the production of infertile youths, as these organisms would have a higher possibility of mating with related organisms within their population, or different species. One of the most famous examples is the impact upon China's giant panda, once found across the nation. Now it is only found in fragmented and isolated regions in the southwest of the country, as a result of widespread deforestation in the 20th century.
Biodiversity hotspots are chiefly tropical regions that feature high concentrations of endemic species and, when all hotspots are combined, may contain over half of the world’s terrestrial species. These hotspots are suffering from habitat loss and destruction. Most of the natural habitat on islands and in areas of high human population density has already been destroyed (WRI, 2003). Islands suffering extreme habitat destruction include New Zealand, Madagascar, the Philippines, and Japan. South and East Asia — especially China, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Japan — and many areas in West Africa have extremely dense human populations that allow little room for natural habitat. Marine areas close to highly populated coastal cities also face degradation of their coral reefs or other marine habitat. These areas include the eastern coasts of Asia and Africa, northern coasts of South America, and the Caribbean Sea and its associated islands.
Regions of unsustainable agriculture or unstable governments, which may go hand-in-hand, typically experience high rates of habitat destruction. Central America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Amazonian tropical rainforest areas of South America are the main regions with unsustainable agricultural practices and/or government mismanagement.
Areas of high agricultural output tend to have the highest extent of habitat destruction. In the U.S., less than 25% of native vegetation remains in many parts of the East and Midwest. Only 15% of land area remains unmodified by human activities in all of Europe.
Tropical rainforests have received most of the attention concerning the destruction of habitat. From the approximately 16 million square kilometers of tropical rainforest habitat that originally existed worldwide, less than 9 million square kilometers remain today. The current rate of deforestation is 160,000 square kilometers per year, which equates to a loss of approximately 1% of original forest habitat each year.
Other forest ecosystems have suffered as much or more destruction as tropical rainforests. Farming and logging have severely disturbed at least 94% of temperate broadleaf forests; many old growth forest stands have lost more than 98% of their previous area because of human activities. Tropical deciduous dry forests are easier to clear and burn and are more suitable for agriculture and cattle ranching than tropical rainforests; consequently, less than 0.1% of dry forests in Central America's Pacific Coast and less than 8% in Madagascar remain from their original extents.
Plains and desert areas have been degraded to a lesser extent. Only 10-20% of the world's drylands, which include temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands, scrub, and deciduous forests, have been somewhat degraded. But included in that 10-20% of land is the approximately 9 million square kilometers of seasonally dry-lands that humans have converted to deserts through the process of desertification. The tallgrass prairies of North America, on the other hand, have less than 3% of natural habitat remaining that has not been converted to farmland.
Wetlands and marine areas have endured high levels of habitat destruction. More than 50% of wetlands in the U.S. have been destroyed in just the last 200 years. Between 60% and 70% of European wetlands have been completely destroyed. In the United Kingdom, there has been an increase in demand for coastal housing and tourism which has caused a decline in marine habitats over the last 60 years. The rising sea levels and temperatures have caused soil erosion, coastal flooding, and loss of quality in the UK marine ecosystem. About one-fifth (20%) of marine coastal areas have been highly modified by humans. One-fifth of coral reefs have also been destroyed, and another fifth has been severely degraded by overfishing, pollution, and invasive species; 90% of the Philippines’ coral reefs alone have been destroyed. Finally, over 35% of the mangrove ecosystems worldwide have been destroyed.
Habitat destruction through natural processes such as volcanism, fire, and climate change is well documented in the fossil record. One study shows that habitat fragmentation of tropical rainforests in Euramerica 300 million years ago led to a great loss of amphibian diversity, but simultaneously the drier climate spurred on a burst of diversity among reptiles.
Habitat destruction caused by humans includes land conversion from forests, etc. to arable land, urban sprawl, infrastructure development, and other anthropogenic changes to the characteristics of land. Habitat degradation, fragmentation, and pollution are aspects of habitat destruction caused by humans that do not necessarily involve over destruction of habitat, yet result in habitat collapse. Desertification, deforestation, and coral reef degradation are specific types of habitat destruction for those areas (deserts, forests, coral reefs).
Geist and Lambin (2002) assessed 152 case studies of net losses of tropical forest cover to determine any patterns in the proximate and underlying causes of tropical deforestation. Their results, yielded as percentages of the case studies in which each parameter was a significant factor, provide a quantitative prioritization of which proximate and underlying causes were the most significant. The proximate causes were clustered into broad categories of agricultural expansion (96%), infrastructure expansion (72%), and wood extraction (67%). Therefore, according to this study, forest conversion to agriculture is the main land use change responsible for tropical deforestation. The specific categories reveal further insight into the specific causes of tropical deforestation: transport extension (64%), commercial wood extraction (52%), permanent cultivation (48%), cattle ranching (46%), shifting (slash and burn) cultivation (41%), subsistence agriculture (40%), and fuel wood extraction for domestic use (28%). One result is that shifting cultivation is not the primary cause of deforestation in all world regions, while transport extension (including the construction of new roads) is the largest single proximate factor responsible for deforestation.
Rising global temperatures, caused by the greenhouse effect, contribute to habitat destruction, endangering various species, such as the polar bear. Melting ice caps promote rising sea levels and floods which threaten natural habitats and species globally.
While the above-mentioned activities are the proximal or direct causes of habitat destruction in that they actually destroy habitat, this still does not identify why humans destroy habitat. The forces that cause humans to destroy habitat are known as drivers of habitat destruction. Demographic, economic, sociopolitical, scientific and technological, and cultural drivers all contribute to habitat destruction.
Demographic drivers include the expanding human population; rate of population increase over time; spatial distribution of people in a given area (urban versus rural), ecosystem type, and country; and the combined effects of poverty, age, family planning, gender, and education status of people in certain areas. Most of the exponential human population growth worldwide is occurring in or close to biodiversity hotspots. This may explain why human population density accounts for 87.9% of the variation in numbers of threatened species across 114 countries, providing indisputable evidence that people play the largest role in decreasing biodiversity. The boom in human population and migration of people into such species-rich regions are making conservation efforts not only more urgent but also more likely to conflict with local human interests. The high local population density in such areas is directly correlated to the poverty status of the local people, most of whom lacking an education and family planning.
From the Geist and Lambin (2002) study described in the previous section, the underlying driving forces were prioritized as follows (with the percent of the 152 cases the factor played a significant role in): economic factors (81%), institutional or policy factors (78%), technological factors (70%), cultural or socio-political factors (66%), and demographic factors (61%). The main economic factors included commercialization and growth of timber markets (68%), which are driven by national and international demands; urban industrial growth (38%); low domestic costs for land, labor, fuel, and timber (32%); and increases in product prices mainly for cash crops (25%). Institutional and policy factors included formal pro-deforestation policies on land development (40%), economic growth including colonization and infrastructure improvement (34%), and subsidies for land-based activities (26%); property rights and land-tenure insecurity (44%); and policy failures such as corruption, lawlessness, or mismanagement (42%). The main technological factor was the poor application of technology in the wood industry (45%), which leads to wasteful logging practices. Within the broad category of cultural and sociopolitical factors are public attitudes and values (63%), individual/household behavior (53%), public unconcern toward forest environments (43%), missing basic values (36%), and unconcern by individuals (32%). Demographic factors were the in-migration of colonizing settlers into sparsely populated forest areas (38%) and growing population density—a result of the first factor—in those areas (25%).
There are also feedbacks and interactions among the proximate and underlying causes of deforestation that can amplify the process. Road construction has the largest feedback effect, because it interacts with—and leads to—the establishment of new settlements and more people, which causes a growth in wood (logging) and food markets. Growth in these markets, in turn, progresses the commercialization of agriculture and logging industries. When these industries become commercialized, they must become more efficient by utilizing larger or more modern machinery that often has a worse effect on the habitat than traditional farming and logging methods. Either way, more land is cleared more rapidly for commercial markets. This common feedback example manifests just how closely related the proximate and underlying causes are to each other.
Habitat destruction vastly increases an area's vulnerability to natural disasters like flood and drought, crop failure, spread of disease, and water contamination. On the other hand, a healthy ecosystem with good management practices will reduce the chance of these events happening, or will at least mitigate adverse impacts.
Agricultural land can actually suffer from the destruction of the surrounding landscape. Over the past 50 years, the destruction of habitat surrounding agricultural land has degraded approximately 40% of agricultural land worldwide via erosion, salinization, compaction, nutrient depletion, pollution, and urbanization. Humans also lose direct uses of natural habitat when habitat is destroyed. Aesthetic uses such as birdwatching, recreational uses like hunting and fishing, and ecotourism usually rely upon virtually undisturbed habitat. Many people value the complexity of the natural world and are disturbed by the loss of natural habitats and animal or plant species worldwide.
Probably the most profound impact that habitat destruction has on people is the loss of many valuable ecosystem services. Habitat destruction has altered nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, and carbon cycles, which has increased the frequency and severity of acid rain, algal blooms, and fish kills in rivers and oceans and contributed tremendously to global climate change. One ecosystem service whose significance is becoming better understood is climate regulation. On a local scale, trees provide windbreaks and shade; on a regional scale, plant transpiration recycles rainwater and maintains constant annual rainfall; on a global scale, plants (especially trees from tropical rainforests) from around the world counter the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by sequestering carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. Other ecosystem services that are diminished or lost altogether as a result of habitat destruction include watershed management, nitrogen fixation, oxygen production, pollination (see pollinator decline), waste treatment (i.e., the breaking down and immobilization of toxic pollutants), and nutrient recycling of sewage or agricultural runoff.
The loss of trees from the tropical rainforests alone represents a substantial diminishing of the earth’s ability to produce oxygen and use up carbon dioxide. These services are becoming even more important as increasing carbon dioxide levels is one of the main contributors to global climate change.
The loss of biodiversity may not directly affect humans, but the indirect effects of losing many species as well as the diversity of ecosystems in general are enormous. When biodiversity is lost, the environment loses many species that perform valuable and unique roles in the ecosystem. The environment and all its inhabitants rely on biodiversity to recover from extreme environmental conditions. When too much biodiversity is lost, a catastrophic event such as an earthquake, flood, or volcanic eruption could cause an ecosystem to crash, and humans would obviously suffer from that. Loss of biodiversity also means that humans are losing animals that could have served as biological control agents and plants that could potentially provide higher-yielding crop varieties, pharmaceutical drugs to cure existing or future diseases or cancer, and new resistant crop varieties for agricultural species susceptible to pesticide-resistant insects or virulent strains of fungi, viruses, and bacteria.
The negative effects of habitat destruction usually impact rural populations more directly than urban populations. Across the globe, poor people suffer the most when natural habitat is destroyed, because less natural habitat means fewer natural resources per capita, yet wealthier people and countries simply have to pay more to continue to receive more than their per capita share of natural resources.
Another way to view the negative effects of habitat destruction is to look at the opportunity cost of destroying a given habitat. In other words, what are people losing out on by taking away a given habitat? A country may increase its food supply by converting forest land to row-crop agriculture, but the value of the same land may be much larger when it can supply natural resources or services such as clean water, timber, ecotourism, or flood regulation and drought control.
The rapid expansion of the global human population is increasing the world’s food requirement substantially. Simple logic dictates that more people will require more food. In fact, as the world’s population increases dramatically, agricultural output will need to increase by at least 50%, over the next 30 years. In the past, continually moving to new land and soils provided a boost in food production to meet the global food demand. That easy fix will no longer be available, however, as more than 98% of all land suitable for agriculture is already in use or degraded beyond repair.
The impending global food crisis will be a major source of habitat destruction. Commercial farmers are going to become desperate to produce more food from the same amount of land, so they will use more fertilizers and show less concern for the environment to meet the market demand. Others will seek out new land or will convert other land-uses to agriculture. Agricultural intensification will become widespread at the cost of the environment and its inhabitants. Species will be pushed out of their habitat either directly by habitat destruction or indirectly by fragmentation, degradation, or pollution. Any efforts to protect the world’s remaining natural habitat and biodiversity will compete directly with humans’ growing demand for natural resources, especially new agricultural lands.
In most cases of tropical deforestation, three to four underlying causes are driving two to three proximate causes. This means that a universal policy for controlling tropical deforestation would not be able to address the unique combination of proximate and underlying causes of deforestation in each country. Before any local, national, or international deforestation policies are written and enforced, governmental leaders must acquire a detailed understanding of the complex combination of proximate causes and underlying driving forces of deforestation in a given area or country. This concept, along with many other results of tropical deforestation from the Geist and Lambin study, can easily be applied to habitat destruction in general. Governmental leaders need to take action by addressing the underlying driving forces, rather than merely regulating the proximate causes. In a broader sense, governmental bodies at a local, national, and international scale need to emphasize the following:
The Asir magpie (Pica asirensis), also known as the Arabian magpie, is a highly endangered species of magpie endemic to Saudi Arabia. It is only found in the country's southwestern highlands, in the Asir Region. It occurs only in African juniper forest in well-vegetated wadis and valleys. It was formerly classified as a subspecies of the Eurasian magpie (Pica pica), and still is by many authorities. This species is highly threatened by habitat destruction, as its native forests are not regenerating. Tourism development and climate change are also posing a threat. Only 135 pairs (270 mature individuals) are known to survive in the wild, and this number is declining.A molecular phylogenetic study published in 2018 found that the Asir magpie was sister to the black-rumped magpie that is found on the Tibetan Plateau.Blue-headed racket-tail
The blue-headed racket-tail (Prioniturus platenae), also known as the Palawan racket-tail and locally as kinawihan, is a parrot found in the western Philippines around Palawan. It inhabits humid lowland forest in small flocks. It is threatened by habitat destruction and limited trapping for the cage-bird trade.Brown-headed crow
The brown-headed crow (Corvus fuscicapillus) is a passerine bird of the genus Corvus in the family Corvidae. Endemic to Indonesia, it has a fragmented distribution in subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest and subtropical or tropical mangrove forest. It is threatened by habitat destruction and the IUCN has rated it as being "near-threatened".Choco toucan
The Choco toucan (Ramphastos brevis) is a near-passerine bird in the family Ramphastidae found in humid lowland and foothill forests on the Pacific slope of Colombia and Ecuador. Within its range, extensive habitat destruction is taking place, but it remains fairly common locally.Cyanide fishing
Cyanide fishing is a method of collecting live fish mainly for use in aquariums, which involves spraying a sodium cyanide mixture into the desired fish's habitat in order to stun the fish. The practice hurts not only the target population, but also many other marine organisms, including coral and coral reefs.Delph Bridge Drain
Delph Bridge Drain is a 0.15 hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest north-west of Soham in Cambridgeshire.This site has the only known British population of fen ragwort, which was previously believed to have become extinct in the UK in 1857, due to habitat destruction. It was re-discovered in 1971 when dormant seeds probably germinated following excavation of the drain.The site is a short stretch of ditch next to the A142 road between Soham and Ely.Extinction debt
In ecology, extinction debt is the future extinction of species due to events in the past. The phrases dead clade walking and survival without recovery express the same idea.Extinction debt occurs because of time delays between impacts on a species, such as destruction of habitat, and the species' ultimate disappearance. For instance, long-lived trees may survive for many years even after reproduction of new trees has become impossible, and thus they may be committed to extinction. Technically, extinction debt generally refers to the number of species in an area likely to become extinct, rather than the prospects of any one species, but colloquially it refers to any occurrence of delayed extinction.
Extinction debt may be local or global, but most examples are local as these are easier to observe and model. It is most likely to be found in long-lived species and species with very specific habitat requirements (specialists). Extinction debt has important implications for conservation, as it implies that species may become extinct due to past habitat destruction, even if continued impacts cease, and that current reserves may not be sufficient to maintain the species that occupy them. Interventions such as habitat restoration may reverse extinction debt.
Immigration credit is the corollary to extinction debt. It refers to the number of species likely to immigrate to an area after an event such as the restoration of an ecosystem.Freckled duck
The freckled duck (Stictonetta naevosa) is a waterfowl species endemic to Australia. The freckled duck has also been referred to as the monkey duck or the oatmeal duck. These birds are usually present in mainland Australia, but disperse to coastal and subcostal wetlands in the dry period. During such times it is common for the freckled duck population to congregate in flocks in the same area, giving the impression that they are more common than they really are.The freckled duck population is at risk of further reduction from habitat destruction, droughts and game hunting. Often habitat destruction and drought can lead to an increase in hunting, as the freckled duck is forced to disperse into more coastal ranges where they may not be recognised as a protected species.In the past few decades, several institutions have established breeding programs to aid in supplementation of the freckled duck population. Such establishments included, but are not restricted to the Hunter Wetlands Australia, Slimbridge Wetlands, Melbourne Zoo, Bronx Zoo, Adelaide Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary and Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. The success of these institutes has been variable, with some failing to establish self-maintaining colonies.Glaresis
Glaresis is a genus of beetles, sometimes called "enigmatic scarab beetles", in its own family, the Glaresidae. It is closely related to, and was formerly included in, the family Scarabaeidae. Although its members occur in arid and sandy areas worldwide (except Australia), only the nocturnal adults have ever been collected (typically at lights), and both the larvae and biology of Glaresis are as yet unknown. Due to their narrow habitat associations, a great number of these species occur in extremely limited geographic areas, and are accordingly imperiled by habitat destruction.
These beetles are small, 2½–6 mm long, and have the stocky appearance typical of fossorial scarabs, with short, heavy, spurred legs. Color ranges from tan to dark brown, and the back is covered with short setae.
Efforts to raise glaresids in the laboratory were undertaken in the 1980s by C. H. Scholtz and others, but were unsuccessful.
Glaresis was originally classified with Trogidae (originally a subfamily within Scarabaeidae), and has many characteristics of "primitive" scarabaeoids, but no affinities to any of the other primitive groups; recent work suggests that they may in fact belong in Trogidae. Scholtz argued that Glaresis is the most primitive type of scarabaeoid, but more recent research indicates that the Pleocomidae hold this position. The species in North, Central, and South America have been revised by Robert Gordon and Guy Hanley, Jan 2014, in the Journal Insecta Mundi.Great evening bat
The great evening bat (Ia io) is the largest bat in the vesper bat family (Vespertilionidae) and the only living species in the genus Ia. It is common to Eastern and Southeastern Asia (China, India, Laos, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam), mainly living in areas with limestone caves at altitudes of 400–1,700 metres (0.25–1.06 mi). Their roost sites have been found both near the cave entrances and up to 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) within the cave systems.The great evening bat reaches a length of 90 to 105 millimetres (3.5–4.1 in). It is colored brown on the top and grayish on the bottom. Average wingspan is .51 m (20 in) and it typically weighs 58 g (2.0 oz).Not much is known about its habits and behavior. The bat usually lives in small groups. Its food consists of insects, as with most vesper bats. The Asian great evening bat also sometimes feeds on small birds . The bat leaves its sleeping place already in the late afternoon for the search of food. During the winter months it may migrate to warmer regions.
The IUCN lists its conservation status as Least Concern. One of the threats to its survival in South Asia is human influence by habitat destruction; many caves have been turned into attractions. They have also been disturbed by farmers collecting their excrement. Also the excessive use of insecticides poses a threat to the great evening bats.At four letters, Ia io is tied with Yi qi for the shortest existing (and shortest possible) scientific name of any animal under the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, and is one of very few scientific names composed solely of vowels .Howler monkey
Howler monkeys (genus Alouatta monotypic in subfamily Alouattinae) are among the largest of the New World monkeys. They are famous for their loud howls, which can travel three miles through dense rainforest. These monkeys are native to South and Central American forests. Threats to howler monkeys include human predation, habitat destruction and being captured for pets or zoo animals. Fifteen species are currently recognized. Previously classified in the family Cebidae, they are now placed in the family Atelidae.Iguana
Iguana (, Spanish: [iˈɣwana]) is a genus of herbivorous lizards that are native to tropical areas of Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. The genus was first described in 1768 by Austrian naturalist Josephus Nicolaus Laurenti in his book Specimen Medicum, Exhibens Synopsin Reptilium Emendatam cum Experimentis circa Venena. Two species are included in the genus Iguana: the green iguana, which is widespread throughout its range and a popular pet, and the Lesser Antillean iguana, which is native to the Lesser Antilles and endangered due to habitat destruction and hybridization with introduced green iguanas.
The word "iguana" is derived from the original Taino name for the species, iwana.In addition to the two species in the genus Iguana, several other related genera in the same family have common names of the species including the word "iguana".List of amphibians of Alabama
The U.S. state of Alabama has 73 known indigenous amphibian species. These indigenous species include 30 frog and toad species and 43 salamander species. Two of these native species may have become extirpated within the state. They are the Mississippi gopher frog and flatwoods salamander.Human predation, pollution, and habitat destruction has placed several amphibian species at risk of extirpation or extinction. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources lists the conservation status of each species within the state with a rank of lowest, low, moderate, high, and highest concern.List of environmental issues
This is an alphabetical list of environmental issues, harmful aspects of human activity on the biophysical environment. They are loosely divided into causes, effects and mitigation, noting that effects are interconnected and can cause new effects.Magdalena River turtle
The Magdalena River turtle or Rio Magdalena river turtle (Podocnemis lewyana) is a species of turtle in the family Podocnemididae. It is endemic to Colombia, where it is confined to the Magdalena River basin.The species has been classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN due to rapid population losses caused by habitat destruction (principally by dams) and traditional and commercial exploitation.Malabar large-spotted civet
The Malabar large-spotted civet (Viverra civettina), also known as the Malabar civet, is a viverrid endemic to the Western Ghats of India. It is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List as the population is estimated to number fewer than 250 mature individuals, with no subpopulation greater than 50 individuals.
In the early 1990s, isolated populations still survived in less disturbed areas of South Malabar but were seriously threatened by habitat destruction and hunting outside protected areas.It is known as Kannan chandu and Male meru in Kerala വെരുക് (veruk) in Malayalam, and in Karnataka as Mangala kutri, Bal kutri and Dodda punugina.Psammobates
Psammobates is a genus of tortoise. This genus contains three member species, all of which are indigenous to Southern Africa.The genus name means "Sand-loving", and these tortoises typically inhabit the arid and semi-arid areas of southern Africa. Their specific diets and adaptations for this environment mean that these species do not generally survive outside their habitats and soon die when kept in captivity.
All three species suffer from illegal collecting and habitat destruction, but the Geometric tortoise has historically been the worst affected and is now endangered.Ridgway's hawk
Ridgway's hawk (Buteo ridgwayi) is a bird of prey in the family Accipitridae, native to the island of Hispaniola. It was named after the American ornithologist Robert Ridgway. It is a brownish-grey bird with barred tail and underparts. It feeds mainly on reptiles, but also consumes small birds and mammals. It nests high in a tree in spring. Populations of this bird have been declining because of habitat destruction and human persecution in the Dominican Republic and is classified as "critically endangered".Wildlife
Wildlife traditionally refers to undomesticated animal species, but has come to include all organisms that grow or live wild in an area without being introduced by humans. Wildlife can be found in all ecosystems. Deserts, forests, rain forests, plains, grasslands and other areas including the most developed urban areas, all have distinct forms of wildlife. While the term in popular culture usually refers to animals that are untouched by human factors, most scientists agree that much wildlife is affected by human activities.Humans have historically tended to separate civilization from wildlife in a number of ways including the legal, social, and moral sense. Some animals, however, have adapted to suburban environments. This includes such animals as domesticated cats, dogs, mice, and gerbils. Some religions declare certain animals to be sacred, and in modern times concern for the natural environment has provoked activists to protest against the exploitation of wildlife for human benefit or entertainment.
The global wildlife population decreased by 52 percent between 1970 and 2014, according to a report by the World Wildlife Fund.
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