Efforts to curtail the spread of the coronavirus have let 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 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.

This paper encourages 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.

The authors argue that collective power of combining diverse data will transcend the limited value of the individual data sets and produce unexpected insights. They also state that the confinement experiment can be considered as a “stress test” to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses in the adequacy of existing networks to detect human impacts on natural systems. They stress that 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.


Bates et al. (2020) COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdown as a “Global Human Confinement Experiment” to investigate biodiversity conservation. Biological Conservation 248:108665.