Niche Contractions in Declining Species: Mechanisms and Consequences

Ben C. Scheele, Claire N. Foster, Sam C. Banks, David B. Lindenmayer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


A fundamental aim of conservation biology is to understand how species respond to threatening processes, with much research effort focused on identifying threats and quantifying spatial and temporal patterns of species decline. Here, we argue that threats often reduce the realized niche breadth of declining species because environmental, biotic, and evolutionary processes reduce or amplify threats, or because a species’ capacity to tolerate threats varies across niche space. Our ‘niche reduction hypothesis’ provides a new lens for understanding why species decline in some locations and not others. This perspective can improve management of declining species by identifying where to focus resources and which interventions are most likely to be effective in a given environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-355
Number of pages10
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017
Externally publishedYes


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