DOI: 10.1111/jzo.13158 ISSN: 0952-8369

Characterizing personalized ecologies

Kevin J. Gaston
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


People have unique sets of direct sensory interactions with wild species, which change through their days, weeks, seasons, and lifetimes. Despite having important influences on their health and well‐being and their attitudes towards nature, these personalized ecologies remain surprisingly little studied and are poorly understood. However, much can be inferred about personalized ecologies by considering them from first principles (largely macroecological), alongside insights from research into the design and effectiveness of biodiversity monitoring programmes, knowledge of how animals respond to people, and studies of human biology and demography. Here I first review how three major sets of drivers, opportunity, capability and motivation, shape people's personalized ecologies. Second, I then explore the implications of these mechanisms for how more passively and more actively practical improvements can be made in people's personalized ecologies. Particularly in light of the declines in the richness of these ecologies that are being experienced in much of the world (the so‐called ‘extinction of experience’), and the significant consequences, marked improvement in many people's interactions and experiences with nature may be key to the future of biodiversity.

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