ENVT 200 03

Humans take up too much space–and it’s affecting how mammals move


How Big is our Footprint Really?

It’s quite evident that the human population is increasing every year. With this increase comes greater area use. Spreading out and using up more resources seems like a simple solution to human population growth, more people means more things needed for people’s consumption. It seems that humanity’s need for land is having a negative effect on the mobility of animals. I know this isn’t exactly shocking news, however, the global pattern of animal disturbance is quite incredible.

A study done in Tsavo, Kenya from 2002-2009 showed animals being greatly impacted by habitat fragmentation and loss (Field Museum, 2018). Animals affected by these phenomenons range from garden mice, to snow foxes, all the way to the African Elephant. The small mouse may not feel a huge burden due to terrestrial loss, because a mouse really doesn’t need too much space to survive. An elephant, however, needs much more room to graze, browse, and travel between migratory corridors. Animals all over the world are dealing with the same problem as those in Kenya. The lack of animal mobility can have detrimental effects to ecosystems, resulting in less pollination, population changes, spread of disease, and many other problems. Species need room to hunt, mate, and reproduce offspring. When their environment changes so drastically, animals have to change their normal behavior. Changes like these put species at risk for predation, starvation, health risks, and much more.  Not all species are able to survive with such limited resources.

This study highlights the importance of threshold, and how resilient a species can be before they can no longer adapt to their environment. If we as humans aren’t cautious, we may cause too much burden for the animals to survive. There wasn’t a lot of bias in the story, it discussed the results of a study fairly and thoroughly. The article focuses on the possibility of fixing our footprint effects and being cautious about our impacts on nature. The article focuses on our ability to track how we are affecting species terrestrial use as well as our own, in order to limit or fix more damage to the health of the animals. As the population grows, humans have to keep in mind the limited resources shared with animals. Instead of another example of Tragedy of the Commons, discussions of how to live harmoniously with nature should be started.

There is a huge underlying ethical issue here: are the interests of humans more important than the interests of animals? That has been argued by philosophers such as Taylor, Singer, and Regan for years. Technically, animals have just as much need of natural resources than people do. Humans have to decide whether or not they will take into account the interests of animals, or they will stick with the human superiority complex. The article brings forth the timeless issue of how the actions of humans shape the world we live in.


Museum, F. (2018, January 25). Humans take up too much space — and it’s affecting how mammals move. Retrieved February 4, 2018, from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180125140916.htm

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4 thoughts on “Humans take up too much space–and it’s affecting how mammals move

  1. robertsonlm

    This article is very important because it basically is stating that our ecological footprint is way too big already and it is just going to keep getting bigger. As humans we tend to always do what benefits us and only us, which is why we keep wanting to take more and more land, but we do not realize how much we are harming animals and the environments they live in. I think as humans we need to start seeing ourselves as coexisting with nature and animals rather than thinking we are more important. If we do not make a change now, in years to come animals and their environments are going to be greatly affected in a very negative way.

  2. boyera

    I have thought too, that humans take up not just too much space, but more space then we need. All other species only take what they need to survive and maintain. Many humans do the opposite and it is hurting others. I agree with you that we should begin to discuss ways in which we can live more harmoniously with nature. We could begin by being more thoughtful in our actions. I think that it is one thing in the modern world that we have forgotten. It is time for a change and that change is up too us.

  3. Aaron Neuhauser

    I agree with you that the results of this study aren’t extremely shocking, after all who would be surprised that our huge farms and cities are impacting the land and resource availability of animals. I think, however, that people underestimate just how destructive that impact can be. One of the themes I’ve been noticing from reading these blogs and other OAKs articles is that we, as the human species, cannot sustain our current role as masters of nature. At some point soon, like you said, we are going to be faced with a tough call on exactly how important our needs are compared to the needs of the ecosystems around us. For our own survival, and the survival the remaining species on Earth, we will have to find a balance so that both our needs and their needs are provided for. One big way to do this I think would be to reduce the amount of land we use for agriculture. Recent decades have seen major advancements in stem cell therapy and vertical farming techniques. Some cities, like Xian in China, have been experimenting with urban farming, which could localize food systems and reduce the need for huge industrial farms. You bring to light a very important issue that will take humanity’s best minds to figure out.

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