Introduction: Autochthonous human adaptation to biodiversity change in the Anthropocene

Patricia L. Howard*, Gretta T. Pecl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Rapid biodiversity change that is already occurring across the globe is accelerating, with major and often negative consequences for human well-being. Biodiversity change is partly driven by climate change, but it has many other interacting drivers that are also driving human adaptation, including invasive species, land-use change, pollution and overexploitation. Humans are adapting to changes in well-being that are related with these biodiversity drivers and other forces and pressures. Adaptation, in turn, has feedbacks both for biodiversity change and human well-being; however, to date, these processes have received little science or policy attention. This Special Issue introduces human adaptation to biodiversity change as a science-policy issue. Research on human adaptation to biodiversity change requires new methods and tools as well as conceptual evolution, as social–ecological systems and environmental change adaptation approaches must be reconsidered when they are applied to different processes and contexts—where biodiversity change drivers are highly significant, where people are responding principally to changes in species, species communities and related ecosystem processes, and where adaptation entails changes in the management of biodiversity and related resource use regimes. The research was carried out in different marine and terrestrial environments across the globe. All of the studies consider adaptation among highly biodiversity-reliant populations, including Indigenous Peoples in the Americas and Europe, farmers in Asia and marine resource users in Europe and the Pacific. The concept of autochthonous adaptation is introduced to specifically address adaptation to environmental change in local systems, which also considers that local adaptation is conditioned by multi-scalar influences and occurs in synergy or conflict with adaptations of other non-local agents and actors who enable or constrain autochthonous adaptation options.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1389-1400
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • Autochthonous adaptation
  • Biodiversity change
  • Case studies
  • Conceptual frameworks


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