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AbstractThe exponential growth that has characterised human societies since the industrial revolution has fundamentally modified our surroundings. Examples include rapid increases in agricultural fields, now accounting for 37% of the land surface, as well as increases in urban areas, projected to triple worldwide by 2030. As such, understanding how species have adapted to and will respond to increasing human pressures is of key importance. Resilience, the ability of an ecological system to resist, recover, and even benefit from disturbances, is a key concept in this regard. Here, using a recently develop comparative demographic framework, we examine how the inherent ability of 921 natural populations of 279 plants and 45 animal species worldwide to respond to disturbances correlates with human settlement size and human activities. We develop a spatially and phylogenetically explicit model parameterised with life history traits and metrics of demographic resilience using the open-access COMPADRE and COMADRE databases, coupled with high-resolution human impact information via the Human Footprint database. We expected: (H1) species’ populations located nearer urban areas to have a greater ability to resist, recover, or benefit from human-related disturbances compared to pristine habitats; (H2) human effects on the responses of animal populations to disturbances to depend on the species’ ability for long-distance mobility; and (H3): human pressures to constrain the repertoire of life history strategies of animal and plant species via their effects on underlying vital rates and life history traits. We find that: (1) urban areas host a limited diversity of strategies that achieve demographic resilience with, on average, more resistant and faster-recovery populations located near human activities than in pristine habitats; (2) species with limited mobility tend to be more strongly affected by human activities than those with long-distance mobility; and (3) human pressures correlate with a limited set of vital rates and life history traits, including the ability to shrink, and reproduce earlier. Our results provide a tangible picture of how, having drastically transformed terrestrial landscapes, humans have shaped the ways animals and plants respond to disturbances.

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