Human impacts on biodiversity

Museum scientists

Professor Andy Purvis

Dr Adriana De Palma

Sara Contu


  • We are modelling the response of biodiversity to environmental changes caused by human activity

Human activities are causing major changes in biological communities worldwide.

These changes can harm biodiversity and ecosystem function.

Ecosystem function is important for supporting plant and animal communities and ensuring our long-term survival.

The main threats facing biodiversity globally are:

  • Destruction, degradation and fragmentation of habitats, or homes, for plants animals and fungi. 
  • Reduction of the ability of life to survive and reproduce because of exploitation, pollution and introduction of alien species.

Species do not all respond equally to these threats. Declines in species often reflect the relationships between species and ecological patterns.

PREDICTS (Projecting Responses of Ecological Diversity In Changing Terrestrial Systems)

A Museum project called PREDICTS is investigating how local biodiversity responds to human pressures such as land-use change, pollution, invasive species and infrastructure.

As part of this project, you can search how biodiversity has changed where you live through the Biodiversity Trends Explorer. This change is given as the Biodiversity Intactness Index (BII).


Using data for conservation, prediction and policy

The Biodiversity Trends Explorer

View and download the Biodiversity Intactness Index (BII) for an area. Predict how the BII will respond to future land use change. 


Developing new molecular and digital tools for discovering biodiversity

Diversity and informatics

Using big data to research the evolution, ecology and interactions of a wide range of organisms


80 million objects form the world’s most important natural history collection