Efforts to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV2) have led to the unprecedented concurrent confinement of nearly two-thirds of the global population. The large human lockdown and its eventual relaxation can be viewed as a Global Human Confinement Experiment. This experiment is a unique opportunity to identify positive and negative effects of human presence and mobility on a range of natural systems, including wildlife, and protected areas, and to study processes regulating biodiversity and ecosystems. We encourage ecologists, environmental scientists, and resource managers to contribute their observations to efforts aiming to build comprehensive global understanding based on multiple data streams, including anecdotal observations, systematic assessments and quantitative monitoring. We argue that the collective power of combining diverse data will transcend the limited value of the individual data sets and produce unexpected insights. We can also consider the confinement experiment as a "stress test" to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses in the adequacy of existing networks to detect human impacts on natural systems. Doing so will provide evidence for the value of the conservation strategies that are presently in place, and create future networks, observatories and policies that are more adept in protecting biological diversity across the world.
Bibliographical noteKAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: We thank the PAN-Environment working group for providing initial discussions that lead to development of some of the ideas included herein. R.J. Command searched for example datasets included in Table 1. T. Bird, R. Corlett, and A. Miller-Rushing provided valuable comments to improve the manuscript. Salary to AEB was from the Canada Research Chairs Program.