Projecting terrestrial biodiversity intactness with GLOBIO 4

Aafke M. Schipper*, Jelle P. Hilbers, Johan R. Meijer, Laura H. Antão, Ana Benítez-López, Melinda M.J. de Jonge, Luuk H. Leemans, Eddy Scheper, Rob Alkemade, Jonathan C. Doelman, Sido Mylius, Elke Stehfest, Detlef P. van Vuuren, Willem Jan van Zeist, Mark A.J. Huijbregts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Scenario-based biodiversity modelling is a powerful approach to evaluate how possible future socio-economic developments may affect biodiversity. Here, we evaluated the changes in terrestrial biodiversity intactness, expressed by the mean species abundance (MSA) metric, resulting from three of the shared socio-economic pathways (SSPs) combined with different levels of climate change (according to representative concentration pathways [RCPs]): a future oriented towards sustainability (SSP1xRCP2.6), a future determined by a politically divided world (SSP3xRCP6.0) and a future with continued global dependency on fossil fuels (SSP5xRCP8.5). To this end, we first updated the GLOBIO model, which now runs at a spatial resolution of 10 arc-seconds (~300 m), contains new modules for downscaling land use and for quantifying impacts of hunting in the tropics, and updated modules to quantify impacts of climate change, land use, habitat fragmentation and nitrogen pollution. We then used the updated model to project terrestrial biodiversity intactness from 2015 to 2050 as a function of land use and climate changes corresponding with the selected scenarios. We estimated a global area-weighted mean MSA of 0.56 for 2015. Biodiversity intactness declined in all three scenarios, yet the decline was smaller in the sustainability scenario (−0.02) than the regional rivalry and fossil-fuelled development scenarios (−0.06 and −0.05 respectively). We further found considerable variation in projected biodiversity change among different world regions, with large future losses particularly for sub-Saharan Africa. In some scenario-region combinations, we projected future biodiversity recovery due to reduced demands for agricultural land, yet this recovery was counteracted by increased impacts of other pressures (notably climate change and road disturbance). Effective measures to halt or reverse the decline of terrestrial biodiversity should not only reduce land demand (e.g. by increasing agricultural productivity and dietary changes) but also focus on reducing or mitigating the impacts of other pressures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)760-771
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Issue number2
Early online date3 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • anthropocene
  • biodiversity scenarios
  • global environmental change
  • land-use downscaling
  • mean species abundance

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    Schipper, A. M., Hilbers, J. P., Meijer, J. R., Antão, L. H., Benítez-López, A., de Jonge, M. M. J., Leemans, L. H., Scheper, E., Alkemade, R., Doelman, J. C., Mylius, S., Stehfest, E., van Vuuren, D. P., van Zeist, W. J., & Huijbregts, M. A. J. (2020). Projecting terrestrial biodiversity intactness with GLOBIO 4. Global Change Biology, 26(2), 760-771.