Orangutans venture out of the rainforest and into the anthropocene

Stephanie N. Spehar, Douglas Sheil, Terry Harrison, Julien Louys, Marc Ancrenaz, Andrew J. Marshall, Serge A. Wich, Michael W. Bruford, Erik Meijaard

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

    Abstract

    Conservation benefits from understanding how adaptability and threat interact to determine a taxon’s vulnerability. Recognizing how interactions with humans have shaped taxa such as the critically endangered orangutan (Pongo spp.) offers insights into this relationship. Orangutans are viewed as icons of wild nature, and most efforts to prevent their extinction have focused on protecting minimally disturbed habitat, with limited success. We synthesize fossil, archeological, genetic, and behavioral evidence to demonstrate that at least 70,000 years of human influence have shaped orangutan distribution, abundance, and ecology and will likely continue to do so in the future. Our findings indicate that orangutans are vulnerable to hunting but appear flexible in response to some other human activities. This highlights the need for a multifaceted, landscape-level approach to orangutan conservation that leverages sound policy and cooperation among government, private sector, and community stakeholders to prevent hunting, mitigate human-orangutan conflict, and preserve and reconnect remaining natural forests. Broad cooperation can be encouraged through incentives and strategies that focus on the common interests and concerns of different stakeholders. Orangutans provide an illustrative example of how acknowledging the long and pervasive influence of humans can improve strategies to preserve biodiversity in the Anthropocene.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article numbere1701422
    JournalScience advances
    Volume4
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jun 27 2018

    Fingerprint

    rainforest
    hunting
    stakeholder
    private sector
    incentive
    vulnerability
    human activity
    extinction
    biodiversity
    fossil
    ecology
    habitat
    preserve
    Anthropocene
    co-operation
    natural forest
    distribution
    conflict
    need
    policy

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General

    Cite this

    Spehar, S. N., Sheil, D., Harrison, T., Louys, J., Ancrenaz, M., Marshall, A. J., ... Meijaard, E. (2018). Orangutans venture out of the rainforest and into the anthropocene. Science advances, 4(6), [e1701422]. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.1701422

    Orangutans venture out of the rainforest and into the anthropocene. / Spehar, Stephanie N.; Sheil, Douglas; Harrison, Terry; Louys, Julien; Ancrenaz, Marc; Marshall, Andrew J.; Wich, Serge A.; Bruford, Michael W.; Meijaard, Erik.

    In: Science advances, Vol. 4, No. 6, e1701422, 27.06.2018.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

    Spehar, SN, Sheil, D, Harrison, T, Louys, J, Ancrenaz, M, Marshall, AJ, Wich, SA, Bruford, MW & Meijaard, E 2018, 'Orangutans venture out of the rainforest and into the anthropocene', Science advances, vol. 4, no. 6, e1701422. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.1701422
    Spehar SN, Sheil D, Harrison T, Louys J, Ancrenaz M, Marshall AJ et al. Orangutans venture out of the rainforest and into the anthropocene. Science advances. 2018 Jun 27;4(6). e1701422. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.1701422
    Spehar, Stephanie N. ; Sheil, Douglas ; Harrison, Terry ; Louys, Julien ; Ancrenaz, Marc ; Marshall, Andrew J. ; Wich, Serge A. ; Bruford, Michael W. ; Meijaard, Erik. / Orangutans venture out of the rainforest and into the anthropocene. In: Science advances. 2018 ; Vol. 4, No. 6.
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