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Human well-being responses to species’ traits

Fisher, Jessica C., Dallimer, Martin, Irvine, Katherine N., Aizlewood, Sam G., Austen, Gail E., Fish, Rob, King, Peter, Davies, Zoe G. (2023) Human well-being responses to species’ traits. Nature Sustainability, 6 (10). pp. 1219-1227. E-ISSN 2398-9629. (doi:10.1038/s41893-023-01151-3) (KAR id:101517)

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People rely on well-functioning ecosystems to provide critical services that underpin human health and wellbeing. Consequently, biodiversity loss has profound negative implications for humanity. Human-biodiversity interactions can deliver individual-level wellbeing gains, equating to substantial healthcare cost-savings when scaled-up across populations. However, critical questions remain about which species and/or traits (e.g. colours, sounds, smells) elicit wellbeing responses. The traits that influence wellbeing can be considered ‘effect’ traits. Using techniques from community ecology, we analyse a database of species’ effect traits articulated by people, to identify those that generate different types of wellbeing (physical, emotional, cognitive, social, spiritual and ‘global’ wellbeing, the latter being akin to ‘whole-person health’). Effect traits have a predominately positive impact on wellbeing, influenced by the identity and taxonomic kingdom of each species. Different sets of effect traits deliver different types of wellbeing. However, traits cannot be considered independently of species because multiple traits can be supported by a single species. Indeed, we find numerous effect traits from across the ecological community can elicit multiple types of wellbeing, illustrating the complexity of biodiversity experiences. Our empirical approach can help implement interdisciplinary thinking for biodiversity conservation and nature-based public health interventions designed to support human wellbeing.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1038/s41893-023-01151-3
Uncontrolled keywords: Biodiversity; nature; wellbeing
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH541 Ecology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Funders: European Research Council (
Depositing User: Jessica Fisher
Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2023 13:04 UTC
Last Modified: 24 Apr 2024 14:36 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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