William J. Ripple

William J. Ripple
Oregon State University | OSU · Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society

PhD

About

305
Publications
221,125
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24,313
Citations

Publications

Publications (305)
Article
Mountains are an essential component of the global life-support system. They are characterized by a rugged, heterogenous landscape with rapidly changing environmental conditions providing myriad ecological niches over relatively small spatial scales. Although montane species are well adapted to life at extremes, they are highly vulnerable to human...
Article
In 2017, more than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries signed a second warning letter to humanity to caution against our continued wholesale destruction of global ecosystems (Ripple et al., 2017). Here, we reaffirm their message with a similar warning specifically focused on the ocean: humanity must immediately and significantly alter our harmful...
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In the face of an accelerating extinction crisis, scientists must draw insights from successful conservation interventions to uncover promising strategies for reversing broader declines. Here, we synthesize cases of recovery from a list of 362 species of large carnivores, ecologically important species that function as terminal consumers in many ec...
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Humanity must commit to transformative change on all levels in order to address the climate emergency and biodiversity collapse. In particular, stabilizing and ultimately reducing the human population size is necessary to ensure the long-term wellbeing of our species and other life on Earth. We show how this transition can be accomplished in an equ...
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Introduced large herbivores have partly filled ecological gaps formed in the late Pleistocene, when many of the Earth's megafauna were driven extinct. However, extant predators are generally considered incapable of exerting top-down influences on introduced megafauna, leading to unusually strong disturbance and herbivory relative to native herbivor...
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There is a growing interest and investment in restoring riparian areas in the Pacific Northwest to protect biodiversity and water quality, and to restore quality habitat for threatened fish species. However, these management activities change vegetation conditions and potentially impact terrestrial species in these ecosystems. Our objective was to...
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The coronavirus pandemic provides us with an opportunity to reassess and reboot our relationship with nature. Reducing the pressures on our planet’s life-giving ecosystems will help solve converging environmental crises as well as benefit public health and well-being. Rather than piecemeal solutions to the rising probability and magnitude of zoonot...
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Assemblages of large mammal species play a disproportionate role in the structure and composition of natural habitats. Loss of these assemblages destabilizes natural systems, while their recovery can restore ecological integrity. Here we take an ecoregion-based approach to identify landscapes that retain their historically present large mammal asse...
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The coronavirus pandemic provides us with an opportunity to reassess and reboot our relationship with nature. Reducing the pressures on our planet’s life-giving ecosystems will help solve converging environmental crises as well as benefit public health and well-being. Rather than piecemeal solutions to the rising probability and magnitude of zoonot...
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Full-text available
Forest preservation is crucial for protecting biodiversity and mitigating climate change. Here we assess current forest preservation in the western United States using spatial data and find that beyond the 18.9% (17.5 Mha) currently protected, an additional 11.1% (10.3 Mha) is needed to achieve 30% preservation by 2030 (30 × 30). To help meet this...
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Predators may alter niche overlap between prey species by eliciting divergent anti-predator behavior. Accordingly, we exploited heterogeneous gray wolf Canis lupus presence in Washington, USA, to contrast patterns of resource and dietary overlap between mule Odocoileus hemionus and white-tailed deer O. virginianus at sites with and without resident...
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‘We have kicked the can down the road once again – but we are running out of road.’ – Rachel Kyte, Dean of Fletcher School at Tufts University. We, in our capacities as scientists, economists, governance and policy specialists, are shifting from warnings to guidance for action before there is no more ‘road.’ The science is clear and irrefutable; hu...
Preprint
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For leaders, planners and people around the world facing uncertainty about actions to resolve our planetary crises, we offer a concrete framework for action. We take the six core areas identified for urgent action by humanity from our 2019 paper in BioScience, World Scientists Warning of a Climate Emergency, and convert these into a framework for c...
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(Replaces preprint) We have kicked the can down the road once again-but we are running out of road.'-Rachel Kyte, Dean of Fletcher School at Tufts University. We, in our capacities as scientists, economists, governance and policy specialists, are shifting from warnings to guidance for action before there is no more 'road.' The science is clear and...
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The metabolism of contemporary industrialized societies, that is their energy and material flows, leads to the overconsumption and waste of natural resources, two factors often disregarded in the global ecological equation. In this perspective article, we examine the amount of natural resources that is increasingly being consumed and wasted by huma...
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The unfolding crises of mass extinction and climate change call for urgent action in response. To limit biodiversity losses and avert the worst effects of climate disruption, we must greatly expand nature protection while simultaneously downsizing and transforming human systems. The conservation initiative Nature Needs Half (or Half Earth), calling...
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In their comment on our paper “Underestimating the challenges of avoiding a ghastly future” (Bradshaw et al., 2021), Bluwstein et al. (2021) attempt to contravene our exposé of the enormous challenges facing the entire human population from a rapidly degrading global environment. While we broadly agree with the need for multi-disciplinary solutions...
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The knowledge systems and practices of Indigenous Peoples and local communities play critical roles in safeguarding the biological and cultural diversity of our planet. Globalization, government policies, capitalism, colonialism, and other rapid social-ecological changes threaten the relationships between Indigenous Peoples and local communities an...
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Record climate extremes are reducing urban liveability, compounding inequality, and threatening infrastructure. Adaptation measures that integrate technological, nature-based, and social solutions can provide multiple co-benefits to address complex socioecological issues in cities while increasing resilience to potential impacts. However, there rem...
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Dead animal biomass (carrion) is present in all terrestrial ecosystems, and its consumption, decomposition, and dispersal can have measurable effects on vertebrates, invertebrates, microbes, parasites, plants, and soil. But despite the number of studies examining the influence of carrion on food webs, there has been no attempt to identify how gener...
Preprint
Full-text available
Introduced large herbivores have partly filled ecological gaps formed in the late Pleistocene, when many of the Earth's megafauna were driven extinct. However, surviving predators are widely considered unable to influence introduced megafauna, leading them to exert unusually strong herbivory and disturbance-related effects. We report on a behaviora...
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Protected areas are a key tool in the conservation of global biodiversity and carbon stores. We conducted a global test of the degree to which more than 18,000 terrestrial protected areas (totalling 5,293,217 km2) reduce deforestation in relation to unprotected areas. We also derived indices that quantify how well countries’ forests are protected,...
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We illustrate how human population has been mostly ignored with regard to climate policy by conducting a systematic review of the literature in the context of social justice and six transformative steps for climate change mitigation. Despite this, implementing socially just population policies could make substantial contributions to climate mitigat...
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We briefly summarize the progress in 2020 - or lack of it - in global action to avert the worst of the climate emergency. See the paper here: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-climate-emergency-2020-in-review/
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Extensive land uses to meet dietary preferences incur a ‘carbon opportunity cost’ given the potential for carbon sequestration through ecosystem restoration. Here we map the magnitude of this opportunity, finding that shifts in global food production to plant-based diets by 2050 could lead to sequestration of 332–547 GtCO2, equivalent to 99–163% of...
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We report three major and confronting environmental issues that have received little attention and require urgent action. First, we review the evidence that future environmental conditions will be far more dangerous than currently believed. The scale of the threats to the biosphere and all its lifeforms — including humanity — is in fact so great th...
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Apex predators play keystone roles in ecosystems through top-down control, but the effects of apex omnivores on ecosystems could be more varied because changes in the resource base alter their densities and reverberate through ecosystems in complex ways. In coastal temperate ecosystems throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere, anadromous salmon o...
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Food shortages can leave diagnostic, and in the case of the dentition, irreversible changes in mineralized tissue that persist into historical and fossil records. Consequently, developmental defects of tooth enamel might be used to track ungulate population irruptions or declines in resource availability, but dental tissue’s capacity for preserving...
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Many terrestrial endotherm food webs constitute three trophic level cascades. Others have two trophic level dynamics (food limited herbivores; plants adapted to tackle intense herbivory) or one trophic level dynamic (herbivorous endotherms absent, thus plants compete for the few places where they can survive and grow). According to the Exploitation...
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Species afflicted by multiple threats are thought to face greater extinction risk. However, it is not known whether multiple threats operate antagonistically, additively, or synergistically, or whether they vary across different taxonomic and spatial scales. We addressed these questions by analyzing threats to 10,378 species in six vertebrate class...
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We scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat. In this paper, we present a suite of graphical vital signs of climate change over the last 40 years. Results show greenhouse gas emissions are still rising, with increasingly damaging effects. With few exceptions, we are largely failing to address this predic...
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The Climate Emergency, Forests, and Transformative Change We appreciate the letters by Pouliot and colleagues (2020) and DellaSala and colleagues (2020) about our recent article “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency” (Ripple et al. 2020). Pouliot and colleagues (2020) call for more scientists, teachers, and citizens to become engaged a...
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All organisms are ultimately dependent on a large diversity of consumptive and non-consumptive interactions established with other organisms, forming an intricate web of interdependencies. In 1992, when 1700 concerned scientists issued the first “World Scientists' Warning to Humanity”, our understanding of such interaction networks was still in its...
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European wasps (Vespula germanica) have invaded parts of North and South America, Australia and New Zealand. They are opportunistic predators and scavengers that can disrupt food webs and species interactions, but their role in food webs associated with carrion is poorly understood. In this study we examined wasp abundance at 20 vertebrate carcasse...
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1. Conflict between humans and large carnivores hinders carnivore conservation worldwide. Livestock depredations by large carnivores is the main cause of conflict, triggering poaching and retaliatory killings by humans. Resolving this conflict requires an understanding of the factors that cause large carnivores to select livestock over wild prey. I...
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Freshwater ecosystems provide irreplaceable services for both nature and society. The quality and quantity of freshwater affect biogeochemical processes and ecological dynamics that determine biodiversity, ecosystem productivity, and human health and welfare at local, regional and global scales. Freshwater ecosystems and their associated riparian h...
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The loss of forest habitat is a leading cause of species extinction, and reforestation is one of two established interventions for reversing this loss. However, the role of reforestation for biodiversity conservation remains debated, and lacking is an assessment of the potential contribution that reforestation could make to biodiversity conservatio...
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American bison (Bison bison) numbers in northern Yellowstone National Park increased during the last two decades, while those of elk (Cervus canadensis) decreased. We undertook this study to assess the potential effects of bison on woody vegetation and channel morphology in the park's northern ungulate winter range. Based on differences in the numb...
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Scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat and to “tell it like it is.” On the basis of this obligation and the graphical indicators presented below, we declare, with more than 11,000 scientist signatories from around the world, clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency.
Article
Scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat and to “tell it like it is.” On the basis of this obligation and the graphical indicators presented below, we declare, with more than 11,000 scientist signatories from around the world, clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency.
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Exactly 40 years ago, scientists from 50 nations met at the First World Climate Conference (in Geneva 1979) and agreed that alarming trends for climate change made it urgently necessary to act. Since then, similar alarms have been made through the 1992 Rio Summit, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, and the 2015 Paris Agreement, as well as scores of other glo...
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Full-text available
Scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat and to “tell it like it is.” On the basis of this obligation and the graphical indicators presented below, we declare, with more than 11,000 scientist signatories from around the world, clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency.
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Full-text available
The scientific consensus states CO2 emissions must be limited to 420 billion tonnes and approximately 720 billion tonnes of CO2 must be removed from the atmosphere to limit global warming to 1·5°C with 66% probability. Restoring natural vegetation, such as forest, is currently the best option at scale for removing CO2 from the atmosphere, and must...
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Habitat loss is the primary driver of biodiversity decline worldwide, but the effects of fragmentation (the spatial arrangement of remaining habitat) are debated. We tested the hypothesis that forest fragmentation sensitivity-affected by avoidance of habitat edges-should be driven by historical exposure to, and therefore species' evolutionary respo...
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The striping of bark on the lower portion of aspen trees (Populus tremuloides) by Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus canadensis), or “barking”, increases entry points for disease organisms such as wood-decaying fungi, thereby increasing aspen tree mortality from heart rot. We hypothesized that this has occurred in Yellowstone's northern range aspen stands...
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View-point article Scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat and to “tell it like it is.” On the basis of this obligation and the graphical indicators presented below, we declare, with more than 11,000 scientist signatories from around the world, clearly and unequiv- ocally that planet Earth is facing a...
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Full-text available
Mitigating and adapting to climate change while honoring the diversity of humans entails major transformations in the ways our global society functions and interacts with natural ecosystems. We are encouraged by a recent surge of concern. Governmental bodies are making climate emergency declarations. Schoolchildren are striking. Ecocide lawsuits ar...