Global Ecology and Biogeography, (Global Ecol. Biogeogr.) (2010) 19, 589–606 RESEARCH PA P E R

Global Ecology and Biogeography, (Global Ecol. Biogeogr.) (2010) 19, 589–606 RESEARCH PA P E R

Author: Minnie Fisher


Global Ecology and Biogeography, (Global Ecol. Biogeogr.) (2010) 19, 589–606RESEARCHPA P E RAnthropogenic transformation of thebiomes, 1700 to 2000Erle C. Ellis1*, Kees Klein Goldewijk2, Stefan Siebert3, Deborah Lightman4and Navin Ramankutty51Department of Geography and EnvironmentalSystems, University of Maryland, BaltimoreCounty, Baltimore, MD, USA, 2NetherlandsEnvironmental Assessment Agency, Bilthoven,The Netherlands, 3Institute of Crop Scienceand Resource Conservation, University ofBonn, Bonn, Germany, 4McGill School of theEnvironment, McGill University, Montreal,QC, Canada, 5Department of Geography andEarth System Science Program, McGillUniversity, Montreal, QC, CanadaA B S T R AC TAim To map and characterize anthropogenic transformation of the terrestrialbiosphere before and during the Industrial Revolution, from 1700 to 2000.Location Global.Methods Anthropogenic biomes (anthromes) were mapped for 1700, 1800, 1900and 2000 using a rule-based anthrome classification model applied to griddedglobal data for human population density and land use. Anthropogenic transformation of terrestrial biomes was then characterized by map comparisons at centuryintervals.Results In 1700, nearly half of the terrestrial biosphere was wild, without humansettlements or substantial land use. Most of the remainder was in a seminaturalstate (45%) having only minor use for agriculture and settlements. By 2000, theopposite was true, with the majority of the biosphere in agricultural and settledanthromes, less than 20% seminatural and only a quarter left wild. Anthropogenictransformation of the biosphere during the Industrial Revolution resulted aboutequally from land-use expansion into wildlands and intensification of land usewithin seminatural anthromes. Transformation pathways differed strongly betweenbiomes and regions, with some remaining mostly wild but with the majority almostcompletely transformed into rangelands, croplands and villages. In the process oftransforming almost 39% of earth’s total ice-free surface into agricultural land andsettlements, an additional 37% of global land without such use has become embedded within agricultural and settled anthromes.Main conclusions Between 1700 and 2000, the terrestrial biosphere made thecritical transition from mostly wild to mostly anthropogenic, passing the 50% markearly in the 20th century. At present, and ever more in the future, the form andprocess of terrestrial ecosystems in most biomes will be predominantly anthropogenic, the product of land use and other direct human interactions with ecosystems. Ecological research and conservation efforts in all but a few biomes wouldbenefit from a primary focus on the novel remnant, recovering and managedecosystems embedded within used lands.*Correspondence: Erle C. Ellis, Department ofGeography and Environmental Systems,University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 1000Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD 21250, USA.E-mail: ece@umbc.eduKeywordsAgriculture,anthromes,anthropogeniclandscapes,conservation,environmental history, global change, land-use change, novel ecosystems,terrestrial ecosystems.INTR O D U C TI O NFor millennia, humans have reshaped the form and process ofecosystems across the terrestrial biosphere, both intentionallyand unintentionally (Turner II et al., 1990; Redman, 1999;© 2010 Blackwell Publishing LtdKirch, 2005; Dearing et al., 2006;). Starting with fairly transientpractices like hunting and gathering and building towards theincreasingly permanent use of land for agriculture and settlements, the widespread and sustained presence of human populations has transformed ecosystems locally, regionally and

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