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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Effects of Human Disturbance on Terrestrial Apex Predators

Ordiz, Andres; Aronsson, Malin; Persson, Jens; Stoen, Ole-Gunnar; Swenson, Jon E.; Kindberg, Jonas


The effects of human disturbance spread over virtually all ecosystems and ecological communities on Earth. In this review, we focus on the effects of human disturbance on terrestrial apex predators. We summarize their ecological role in nature and how they respond to different sources of human disturbance. Apex predators control their prey and smaller predators numerically and via behavioral changes to avoid predation risk, which in turn can affect lower trophic levels. Crucially, reducing population numbers and triggering behavioral responses are also the effects that human disturbance causes to apex predators, which may in turn influence their ecological role. Some populations continue to be at the brink of extinction, but others are partially recovering former ranges, via natural recolonization and through reintroductions. Carnivore recovery is both good news for conservation and a challenge for management, particularly when recovery occurs in human-dominated landscapes. Therefore, we conclude by discussing several management considerations that, adapted to local contexts, may favor the recovery of apex predator populations and their ecological functions in nature.


carnivore recovery; ecological function; human disturbance; human-dominated landscapes; large carnivores; Northern hemisphere

Published in

2021, volume: 13, number: 2, article number: 68
Publisher: MDPI

Authors' information

Ordiz, Andrés
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Ordiz, Andrés
Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Stockholm University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Stoen, Ole-Gunnar
Norwegian Institute Nature Research
Swenson, Jon E.
Norwegian University of Life Sciences
Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies

UKÄ Subject classification

Fish and Wildlife Management

Publication Identifiers


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