U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Biological Conservation 268 (2022) 109515


U.S. government work


Carnivore populations globally have largely declined, and coexistence, where humans and carnivores share landscapes, plays a crucial role in carnivore conservation. However, the term “coexistence” is often used in scientific and popular literature without being clearly defined. Herein, we provide a global perspective on what coexistence is and how it is studied. We conducted a systematic map of 366 articles published between 1987 and 2020 to characterize human-carnivore coexistence literature according to coexistence definitions, temporal trends, geographic and taxonomic focus, and four thematic aspects of coexistence: carnivore ecology, human endeavors, social conflict and human-carnivore conflict. We used chi-squared tests and generalized linear models to describe the thematic, taxonomic and geographic focus of the literature. The human-carnivore coexistence literature increased exponentially in the past 30 years, but few articles defined the term “coexistence” and those that did used inconsistent definitions. Thematically, coexistence research showed less emphasis on social conflict, even though it is a major driver of conflict regarding carnivores. The literature also focused primarily on larger carnivores, rather than endangered carnivores, and was primarily led by European and North American authors. We offer a simplified, formal definition of “coexistence” that incorporates the four thematic aspects of coexistence encountered in the literature: Co-occurrence of sustainable carnivore populations and human endeavors with minimal human-carnivore and human-human conflict. We encourage researchers to focus on the social dimensions of coexistence, such as human attitudes towards carnivores or the underlying causes of social conflict, and to broaden the taxonomic and cultural breadth of their projects.