A team of scientists from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) in Syracuse, New York, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture analyzed the deaths of 42,755 vertebrate animals that died in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania between 1970 and 2018.
Researchers documented these 42,755 mortalities of known cause from 120,657 individuals representing 305 vertebrate species in 1,114 studies. Overall, 28% of the deaths were directly caused by humans and 72% from natural sources.
Predation (55%) and legal harvest (17%) were the leading sources of mortality.
Researchers also found that the larger animals were more likely to be killed by humans than smaller species. Adult animals were also more likely than juveniles to be killed by humans.
Co-author of the study, Jerrold L. Belant, the Camp Fire Conservation Fund professor at ESF has said that “We all know humans can have a substantial effect on wildlife. That we are only one among over 35,000 species of terrestrial vertebrates worldwide yet responsible for more than one-fourth of their deaths provides perspective on how large our effect actually is. And that’s just direct causes. When you also consider urban growth and other land use changes that reduce habitat, it becomes clear humans have a disproportionate effect on other terrestrial vertebrates.”
Belant conducted the study with Jacob E. Hill, another ESF faculty member, and Travis L. DeVault of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
“On the land, one-quarter of vertebrates die because of humans” on Phys.org