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

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


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.


Alien species Biological homogenization Global trade Empires Future trends Global connectivity 


  1. Anderson E (1954) Plants, man and life. Andrew Melrose, LondonGoogle Scholar
  2. Baker SE, Cain R, Kesteren FV et al (2013) Rough trade. Bioscience 63:928–938. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beinart W, Middleton K (2004) Plant transfers in historical perspective: a review article. Environ Hist Camb 10:3–29. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brockway LH (1979) Science and colonial expansion: the role of the British Royal Botanic Gardens. Am Ethnol 6:449–465. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bush ER, Baker SE, Macdonald DW (2014) Global trade in exotic pets 2006–2012. Conserv Biol 28:663–676. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Capinha C, Seebens H, Cassey P et al (2017) Diversity, biogeography and the global flows of alien amphibians and reptiles. (in press)Google Scholar
  7. Cassey P, Vall-Llosera Camps M, Dyer E, Blackburn TM (2015) The biogeography of avian invasions: history, accident and market trade. In: Biological invasions in changing ecosystems: vectors, ecological impacts, management and predictions. De Gruyter Open, Warsaw/Berlin, pp 37–54. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Conedera M, Krebs P, Tinner W et al (2004) The cultivation of Castanea sativa (Mill.) in Europe, from its origin to its diffusion on a continental scale. Veg Hist Archaeobotany 13:161–179. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Crosby AW (1972) The Columbian exchange: biological and cultural consequences of 1492. Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  10. Cucchi T, Vigne JD, Auffray JC (2005) First occurrence of the house mouse (Mus musculus domesticus Schwarz & Schwarz, 1943) in the Western Mediterranean: a zooarchaeological revision of subfossil occurrences. Biol J Linn Soc 84:429–445. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. D’Cruze N, Macdonald DW (2016) A review of global trends in CITES live wildlife confiscations. Nat Conserv 15:47–63. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Deininger K, Byerlee D (2011) Rising global interest in farmland. World Bank, Washington, DCCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Di Castri F (1989) History of biological invasions with special emphasis on the old world. In: Drake JA, Mooney HA, di Castri F, Groves RH, Kruger F, Rejmánek M et al (eds) Biological invasions: a global perspective. Wiley, Chichester, pp 1–30Google Scholar
  14. Diamond J (2003) Guns, germs, and steel in 2003. W. W. Norton & Company, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Essl F, Bacher S, Blackburn TM et al (2015) Crossing frontiers in tackling pathways of biological invasions. Bioscience 65:769–782. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Haerer A, Torres-Dowdall J, Meyer A (2017) The imperiled fish fauna in the Nicaragua Canal zone. Conserv Biol 31:86–95. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hulme PE (2009) Trade, transport and trouble: managing invasive species pathways in an era of globalization. J Appl Ecol 46:10–18. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hulme PE (2011) Addressing the threat to biodiversity from botanic gardens. Trends Ecol Evol 26:168–174. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Hulme PE (2015) Invasion pathways at a crossroad: policy and research challenges for managing alien species introductions. J Appl Ecol 52:1418–1424. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hulme PE, Bacher S, Kenis M et al (2008) Grasping at the routes of biological invasions: a framework for integrating pathways into policy. J Appl Ecol 45:403–414. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Jeschke JM, Strayer DL (2007) Invasion success of vertebrates in Europe and North America. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 102:7198–7202. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kennedy TA, Naeem S, Howe KM et al (2002) Biodiversity as a barrier to ecological invasion. Nature 417:636–638. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Levine JM, D’Antonio CM (2003) Forecasting biological invasions with increasing international trade. Conserv Biol 17:322–326. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Melia N, Haines K, Hawkins E (2016) Sea ice decline and 21st century trans-Arctic shipping routes. Geophys Res Lett 43:9720–9728. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Messerli P, Giger M, Dwyer MB et al (2014) The geography of large-scale land acquisitions: analysing socio-ecological patterns of target contexts in the global South. Appl Geogr 53:449–459. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mitchner KJ, Weidenmier M (2008) Trade and empire. Econ J 118:1805–1834CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Muirhead JR, Minton MS, Miller WA, Ruiz GM (2015) Projected effects of the Panama Canal expansion on shipping traffic and biological invasions. Divers Distrib 21:75–87. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Musgrave T, Gardner C, Musgrave W (1999) The plant hunters two hundred years of adventure and discovery. Seven Dials, LondonGoogle Scholar
  29. Nuñez MA, Pauchard A (2010) Biological invasions in developing and developed countries: does one model fit all. Biol Invasions 12:707–714. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Nunn N, Qian N (2010) The Columbian exchange: a history of disease, food, and ideas. J Econ Perspect 24:163–188. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Olden JD, Rooney TP (2006) On defining and quantifying biotic homogenization. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 15:113–120. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Osborne MA (2000) Acclimatizing the world: a history of the paradigmatic colonial science. Osiris 15:135–151. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Sax DF, Brown JH (2000) The paradox of invasion. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 9:363–371. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Scherer C (2012) Foreign investment in agricultural land down from 2009 peak. Vital Signs 20:74–77Google Scholar
  35. Seebens H, Essl F, Dawson W et al (2015) Global trade will accelerate plant invasions in emerging economies under climate change. Glob Chang Biol 21:4128–4140. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Stoner A, Hummer K (2007) 19th and 20th century plant hunters. Hortscience 42:197–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Su S, Cassey P, Vall-Llosera M, Blackburn TM (2015) Going cheap: determinants of bird price in the Taiwanese pet market. PLoS One 10:1–17. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Theoharides KA, Dukes JS (2007) Plant invasion across space and time: factors affecting nonindigenous species success during four stages of invasion. New Phytol 176:256–273. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. van Kleunen M, Dawson W, Essl F et al (2015) Global exchange and accumulation of non-native plants. Nature 525:100–103. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Winter M, Schweiger O, Klotz S et al (2009) Plant extinctions and introductions lead to phylogenetic and taxonomic homogenization of the European flora. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 106:21721–21725. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  41. World Trade Organization (2011) World trade report 2011 – the WTO and preferential trade agreements: from co-existence to coherenceGoogle Scholar
  42. World Trade Organization (2013) World trade report 2013 – dactors shaping the future of world tradeGoogle Scholar
  43. Zeuner FE (1963) A history of domesticated animals. Hutchinson & Co. (Publishers) Ltd, LondonGoogle Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations