Michigan State University scientist Jianguo (Jack) Liu and colleagues at Stanford University, in the Jan. 12 Advanced Online Publication (www.nature.com) of the British science journal Nature, examine how the growing number of households worldwide and the declining number of occupants in a household affects biodiversity and resource consumption.
The paper, entitled "Effects of household dynamics on resource consumption and biodiversity," takes a new look at population dynamics. It explores how increases in the number of households in 141 countries, even where the overall population declines, have a significant impact on wildlife and the environment.
The results, the authors say, point to needed changes in policies intended to protect valuable wildlife habitat and ecosystem services.
"Having fewer people in more households means using more resources and putting more stress on the environment," said Liu, an associate professor of fisheries and wildlife. "Freedom and privacy come at a huge environmental cost."
Liu and his co-authors ecologist Gretchen Daily, population expert Paul Ehrlich and postdoctoral associate Gary Luck examined household dynamics and population changes worldwide, then scrutinized six areas with biodiversity "hotspots," areas with high densities of animal and plant species.
The studies paint pictures of how changes in human lifestyles affect vastly different habitats from endangered pandas in the mountains of southwestern China to the subdivisions that press against the Florida Everglades.
In a nutshell: Across the world, in both developed and developing countries, households are generally getting smaller, and there are many more of them. Multigenerational li
Contact: Jack Liu
Michigan State University