Wildlife population trends in protected areas predicted by national socio-economic metrics and body size

Ensuring that protected areas (Pas) maintain the biodiversity within their boundaries is fundamental in achieving global conservation goals. Despite this objective, wildlife abundance changes in Pas are patchily documented and poorly understood. Here, we use linear mixed effect models to explore correlates of population change in 1,902 populations of birds and mammals from 447 Pas globally. On an average, we find Pas are maintaining populations of monitored birds and mammals within their boundaries. Wildlife population trends are more positive in Pas located in countries with higher development scores, and for larger-bodied species. These results suggest that active management can consistently overcome disadvantages of lower reproductive rates and more severe threats experienced by larger species of birds and mammals. The link between wildlife trends and national development shows that the social and economic conditions supporting Pas are critical for the successful maintenance of their wildlife populations.