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Putting People in the Map: Anthropogenic Biomes of the World

Erle C. Ellis and Navin Ramankutty
Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Vol. 6, No. 8 (Oct., 2008), pp. 439-447
Published by: Wiley
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20440966
Page Count: 9
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Putting People in the Map: Anthropogenic Biomes of the World
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Abstract

Humans have fundamentally altered global patterns of biodiversity and ecosystem processes. Surprisingly, existing systems for representing these global patterns, including biome classifications, either ignore humans altogether or simplify human influence into, at most, four categories. Here, we present the first characterization of terrestrial biomes based on global patterns of sustained, direct human interaction with ecosystems. Eighteen "anthropogenic biomes" were identified through empirical analysis of global population, land use, and land cover. More than 75% of Earth's ice-free land showed evidence of alteration as a result of human residence and land use, with less than a quarter remaining as wildlands, supporting just 11% of terrestrial net primary production. Anthropogenic biomes offer a new way forward by acknowledging human influence on global ecosystems and moving us toward models and investigations of the terrestrial biosphere that integrate human and ecological systems.

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