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Global change in microcosms: environmental and societal predictors of land cover change on the Atlantic Ocean Islands

Global change in microcosms: environmental and societal predictors of land cover change on the Atlantic Ocean Islands
Global change in microcosms: environmental and societal predictors of land cover change on the Atlantic Ocean Islands
Islands contribute enormously to global biodiversity, but their species and ecosystems are highly threatened and often confined to small patches of remaining native vegetation. Islands are thus ideal microcosms to study the local dimensions of global change. While human activities have drastically transformed most islands, the extent to which societal and environmental conditions shape differences in land cover remains unclear. This study analyses the role of contrasting environmental and societal conditions in affecting the extent of native vegetation cover on 30 islands in five Atlantic Ocean archipelagos (Azores, Madeira, Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Gulf of Guinea Islands). We adopt a mixed-method approach in which we combine a statistical analysis of environmental and societal variables with a qualitative reconstruction of historical socioeconomic trends. Statistical results indicate that terrain ruggedness predominantly shapes the extent of remaining native vegetation cover, suggesting that topography constrains human impacts on biodiversity. Overall, environmental variables better explain differences in native vegetation cover between islands than societal variables like human population density. However, throughout history, islands experienced large changes in demography and socioeconomic trends, and therefore modern patterns of native vegetation might also partly reflect these past conditions. While anthropocene narratives often present humans as a global geophysical force, the results show that local environmental context strongly mitigated the degree of human impact on biodiversity. These findings call for integrative approaches to understand the contributions of local human-environment interactions to ongoing global change.
Deforestation, Global biodiversity change, Macaronesian Islands, Qualitative-quantitative mixed-methods, Social-ecological systems, Topographic ruggedness
2213-3054
Norder, Sietze. J
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de Lima, Ricardo F.
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de Nascimento, Lea
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Lim, Jun Y.
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Fernández-Palacios, José María
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Romeiras, Maria M.
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Elias, Rui Bento
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Cabezas, Francisco J.
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Catarino, Luís Catarino1
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Ceríaco, Luis M. P.
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Castilla Beltran, Alvaro
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Gabriel, Rosalina
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Menezes de Sequeira, Miguel
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Rijsdijk, Kenneth F.
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Nogué, Sandra
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Kissling, W. Daniel
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van Loon, E. Emiel
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Hall, Marcus
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Matos, Margarida
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Borges, Paulo A.V.
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Norder, Sietze. J
09cf70b5-2e59-4c3d-97f9-610889890876
de Lima, Ricardo F.
978ade07-24bd-48be-afcf-17928b24e33b
de Nascimento, Lea
5bb40153-b7a1-495e-b0ac-302307b930b7
Lim, Jun Y.
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Fernández-Palacios, José María
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Romeiras, Maria M.
a2f04d16-d662-4b13-8ab4-8dd0b5f1b3de
Elias, Rui Bento
2d8ec838-61ea-4457-b4e5-786898772589
Cabezas, Francisco J.
47961242-c2a5-4218-bcbc-2d644a9a5f12
Catarino, Luís Catarino1
b7492c86-d31b-4ba4-9ec4-df4459df7d96
Ceríaco, Luis M. P.
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Castilla Beltran, Alvaro
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Gabriel, Rosalina
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Menezes de Sequeira, Miguel
40b78367-f38a-4b9e-9ed1-c6c013d26af3
Rijsdijk, Kenneth F.
1750cef4-c7d4-4aa1-815c-7e89a44b7078
Nogué, Sandra
5b464cff-a158-481f-8b7f-647c93d7a034
Kissling, W. Daniel
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van Loon, E. Emiel
237a8932-870b-4d33-a8ff-157a17233569
Hall, Marcus
39df629f-971c-415f-82f3-506ee7527d44
Matos, Margarida
15527ef8-ec0e-444f-82d0-be83fdc5af52
Borges, Paulo A.V.
2c59228e-f96a-477e-9158-80bea9e6201c

Norder, Sietze. J, de Lima, Ricardo F., de Nascimento, Lea, Lim, Jun Y., Fernández-Palacios, José María, Romeiras, Maria M., Elias, Rui Bento, Cabezas, Francisco J., Catarino, Luís Catarino1, Ceríaco, Luis M. P., Castilla Beltran, Alvaro, Gabriel, Rosalina, Menezes de Sequeira, Miguel, Rijsdijk, Kenneth F., Nogué, Sandra, Kissling, W. Daniel, van Loon, E. Emiel, Hall, Marcus, Matos, Margarida and Borges, Paulo A.V. (2020) Global change in microcosms: environmental and societal predictors of land cover change on the Atlantic Ocean Islands. Anthropocene, 30, [100242]. (doi:10.1016/j.ancene.2020.100242).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Islands contribute enormously to global biodiversity, but their species and ecosystems are highly threatened and often confined to small patches of remaining native vegetation. Islands are thus ideal microcosms to study the local dimensions of global change. While human activities have drastically transformed most islands, the extent to which societal and environmental conditions shape differences in land cover remains unclear. This study analyses the role of contrasting environmental and societal conditions in affecting the extent of native vegetation cover on 30 islands in five Atlantic Ocean archipelagos (Azores, Madeira, Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Gulf of Guinea Islands). We adopt a mixed-method approach in which we combine a statistical analysis of environmental and societal variables with a qualitative reconstruction of historical socioeconomic trends. Statistical results indicate that terrain ruggedness predominantly shapes the extent of remaining native vegetation cover, suggesting that topography constrains human impacts on biodiversity. Overall, environmental variables better explain differences in native vegetation cover between islands than societal variables like human population density. However, throughout history, islands experienced large changes in demography and socioeconomic trends, and therefore modern patterns of native vegetation might also partly reflect these past conditions. While anthropocene narratives often present humans as a global geophysical force, the results show that local environmental context strongly mitigated the degree of human impact on biodiversity. These findings call for integrative approaches to understand the contributions of local human-environment interactions to ongoing global change.

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Global change in microcosms - Accepted Manuscript
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Accepted/In Press date: 25 April 2020
Published date: 25 April 2020
Keywords: Deforestation, Global biodiversity change, Macaronesian Islands, Qualitative-quantitative mixed-methods, Social-ecological systems, Topographic ruggedness

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 441345
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/441345
ISSN: 2213-3054
PURE UUID: 031ff0a0-d90d-4335-a497-b03ccef56992
ORCID for Sandra Nogué: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-0093-4252

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 10 Jun 2020 16:30
Last modified: 26 Nov 2021 03:04

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Contributors

Author: Sietze. J Norder
Author: Ricardo F. de Lima
Author: Lea de Nascimento
Author: Jun Y. Lim
Author: José María Fernández-Palacios
Author: Maria M. Romeiras
Author: Rui Bento Elias
Author: Francisco J. Cabezas
Author: Luís Catarino1 Catarino
Author: Luis M. P. Ceríaco
Author: Alvaro Castilla Beltran
Author: Rosalina Gabriel
Author: Miguel Menezes de Sequeira
Author: Kenneth F. Rijsdijk
Author: Sandra Nogué ORCID iD
Author: W. Daniel Kissling
Author: E. Emiel van Loon
Author: Marcus Hall
Author: Margarida Matos
Author: Paulo A.V. Borges

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