Causality of Biodiversity Loss: Climate, Vegetation, and Urbanization in China and America

Sensors (Basel). 2019 Oct 17;19(20):4499. doi: 10.3390/s19204499.


Essential for directing conservation resources is to identify threatened vertebrate regions and diagnose the underlying causalities. Through relating vertebrates and threatened vertebrates to the rainfall-runoff chain, to the food chain, and to the human impact of urbanization, the following relationships are noticed: (i) The Earth's vertebrates generally show increasing abundance and decreasing threatened species indicator (threatened species number/species abundance) for a higher Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) or larger city-size. (ii) Regional vertebrates reveal a notable 'U-shape profile' ('step-like jump') of threatened species indicator occurs in the moderate (high) NDVI regions in China (America). (iii) Positive/green city states emerge in China and are characterized by the lowest threatened species indicators in areas of low to moderate greenness, where the greenness trend of change during the last 30 years is about three times higher in the urbanized areas than over land. (iv) Negative/brown city states emerge in America revealing high threatened species indicators for greenness exceeding NDVI > 0.2, where similar greenness trends are of both urbanized and land areas. The occurrence of green and brown city states suggests a biodiversity change pattern characterized by the threatened species indicator declining from city regimes with high to those with low indicator values for increasing ratio of the city-over-land NDVI trends.

Keywords: green and brown cities; night-light cities; rainfall-runoff chain; threatened vertebrates; vegetation greenness.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biodiversity*
  • China
  • Cities
  • Climate
  • Ecosystem*
  • Environmental Monitoring*
  • Humans
  • Temperature
  • United States
  • Urbanization
  • Vertebrates / growth & development*