Animals that live fast better resist human pressure

MADRID, November 28 (EUROPA PRESS) –

Fast-lived animals -that is, frequent or abundant reproduction and short life- are more resistant to changes in land use man-made than slow-living,

According to the findings published in Global Change Biology of a study led by researchers at the UCL (University College London), Worldwide, in areas that have experienced rapid expansion of cropland or bare soil, fast-living species have increased in numbers in recent decades, while slow-living species are declining.

The research team analyzed the effects of changes in land cover and temperature on 1,072 animal populations recorded in the Living Planet database. The data spans from 1992 to 2016 and includes 461 species (273 birds, 137 mammals, and 51 reptiles) from across Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America, and Oceania.

The researchers compared the success of animals with fast-living traits—those that reproduce quickly or in large numbers, but may not live very long—and those with slow-living traits, They live long and are slow to reach maturity.

The researchers found that, overall, fast-living species had more positive population trends than slow-living species. While most animals suffered a decline in their populations in cultivated areas and bare soil expansion, fast-living animals continued to show, on average, positive population trends in these areas.

The results add to the evidence that animals with fast-living traits are also better able to tolerate warming climates than “slower” animals.

The authors note that many invasive species, such as rats (Rattus rattus) or monk parakeets (Myiopsitta monachus), have rapid life histories. Many fast-living species are generalists, able to adapt to changing environments, while many more specialized animals, which can play important and distinct roles in their local ecosystem, they have slower life histories.

Lead author Dr Gonzalo Albaladejo Robles, from UCL’s Center for Biodiversity & Environment Research, said it’s a statement: “Not all animal populations respond equally to changes in climate and land use, as some groups are more vulnerable than others. As humans increasingly impact global ecosystems, it is possible that we see a change in the composition of the animal community in many areas, as some slow-living animals disappear while fast-living ones continue to thrive.”

The researchers caution that their results are mainly due to the effect of a small proportion of animal populations (2.5-5% of the total data) with extreme rates of change.

Other studies led by scientists at the UCL Biodiversity Research Center have previously found that predators are most likely to disappear when natural habitats are converted to agricultural areas or cities, while animals in tropical and Mediterranean areas are the most sensitive to climate change and land use pressures.