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A balance of winners and losers in the Anthropocene

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posted on 08.02.2019, 16:30 by Maria Dornelas, Nicholas J. Gotelli, Hideyasu ShimadzuHideyasu Shimadzu, Faye Moyes, Anne E. Magurran, Brian McGill
Scientists disagree about the nature of biodiversity change. While there is evidence for widespread declines from population surveys, assemblage surveys reveal a mix of declines and increases. These conflicting conclusions may be caused by the use of different metrics: assemblage metrics may average out drastic changes in individual populations. Alternatively, differences may arise from data sources: populations monitored individually, versus whole assemblage monitoring. To test these hypotheses, we estimated population change metrics using assemblage data. For a set of 23,241 populations, 16,009 species, in 158 assemblages, we detected significantly accelerating extinction and colonisation rates, with both rates being approximately balanced. Most populations (85%) did not show significant trends in abundance, and those that did were balanced between winners (8%) and losers (7%). Thus, population metrics estimated with assemblage data are commensurate with assemblage metrics and reveal sustained and increasing species turnover.


We are grateful to the European Research Council (AdG BioTIME 250189 and PoC BioCHANGE 72744) for funding. MD is funded by a Leverhulme Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust and by the John Templeton Foundation grant #60501 'Putting the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis to the Test'.



  • Science


  • Mathematical Sciences

Published in

Ecology Letters


DORNELAS, M. ... et al, 2019. A balance of winners and losers in the Anthropocene. Ecology Letters, 22 (5), pp.847-854.


© John Wiley & Sons Ltd/CNRS


AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: DORNELAS, M. ... et al, 2019. A balance of winners and losers in the Anthropocene. Ecology Letters, 22 (5), pp.847-854, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.

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