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The Changing Role of Europe in Past and Future Alien Species Displacement

  • Bernd LenznerEmail author
  • Franz Essl
  • Hanno Seebens
Chapter
Part of the Ecology and Ethics book series (ECET, volume 3)

Abstract

Human activity has resulted in a massive reshuffling of the world’s biota by introducing species into regions outside their native range worldwide. Alien species introduction leads to the breakdown of biogeographic barriers, thereby promoting a homogenization of the world’s biota. The observed pattern of alien species distributions today is a result of past connectivity of different regions of the world through, for example, trade, human migration, and political affiliation (e.g. historic empires), all of which have changed in time. A historical perspective on human activity is therefore essential to understand the processes underlying biotic homogenization. During the fifteenth to nineteenth century, growing processes of global trade of commodities occurred between Europe and North America and Europe and Southeast Asia. The colonization of the North American continent led to a strongly directed introduction pattern of species with European origin; however, towards the end of this period, many colonies in temperate regions (e.g. Australia, New Zealand) received increasing numbers of alien species. In the twentieth century, the world markets and societies moved closer together due to a further increase in the global connectivity of countries, which resulted in an intensification of biotic homogenization worldwide. Changing political and economic situations of countries caused continuous changes in trade and migration networks. These changes in connectivity have profound effects on the displacement of species around the globe. In this chapter, we investigate the role of Europe in historical times as a central agent in global species displacement. Subsequently, we discuss how this role changed recently and will likely change in the future due to dynamics in the global economy and changes in the importance of countries as key players in a globally interconnected world.

Keywords

Alien species Biological homogenization Global trade Empires Future trends Global connectivity 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Conservation Biology, Landscape & Vegetation EcologyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria
  2. 2.Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (SBiK-F)Frankfurt am MainGermany

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