Global patterns of resilience decline in vertebrate populations

Pol Capdevila*, Nicola Noviello, Louise McRae, Robin Freeman, Christopher F Clements

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


Maintaining the resilience of natural populations, their ability to resist and recover from disturbance, is crucial to prevent biodiversity loss. However, the lack of appropriate data and quantitative tools has hampered our understanding of the factors determining resilience on a global scale. Here, we quantified the temporal trends of two key components of resilience—resistance and recovery—in >2000 population time-series of >1000 vertebrate species globally. We show that the number of threats to which a population is exposed is the main driver of resilience decline in vertebrate populations. Such declines are driven by a non-uniform loss of different components of resilience (i.e. resistance and recovery). Increased anthropogenic threats accelerating resilience loss through a decline in the recovery ability—but not resistance—of vertebrate populations. These findings suggest we may be underestimating the impacts of global change, highlighting the need to account for the multiple components of resilience in global biodiversity assessments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-251
Number of pages12
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number1
Early online date16 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Jane Memmott, Marc Besson and Tommaso Jucker for their comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. L.M. is funded by WWF UK and WWF Netherlands. This work was funded by a Leverhulme grant (RPG‐2019‐368) and Natural Environment Research Council (NE/T006579/1).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Ecology Letters published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • Animals
  • Biodiversity
  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Ecosystem
  • Vertebrates


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