Many researchers have implicated human population density in species endangerment, but these correlative studies do not demonstrate causality. We propose that hypotheses implicating human population density in wildlife endangerment at global and national scales owe their public and academic currency as thoroughly to inductive reasoning and repetition as to scientific experimentation. It follows that alternative research hypotheses generated from the same facts should provide equally tenable results. Household density provides such an alternative hypothesis and is growing faster than human population density. We used linear multiple regression models to demonstrate that household density provides a viable alternative statistical hypothesis to human population density for explaining species endangerment (household model, r2 = 0.85; population model, r2 = 0.84). We then suggest adopting a household perspective for biodiversity conservation because 1) social norms and practices render a household approach to conservation more pragmatic than a human population perspective and 2) shifting the focus toward households could facilitate movement from a human-versus-nature ethic to a humans-situated-within-nature ethic (e.g., a land ethic). Wildlife managers and researchers concerned about the negative influence humans have on biodiversity should consider grounding research, theory, and policy decisions in the dynamics of human households as an alternative to human population.
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Vol. 71 • No. 4