Plant invasions in the Anthropocene

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Science  10 Nov 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6364, pp. 724-725
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao6371

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Today's globalized economy causes the large-scale redistribution of plant species (1). However, only some alien species that are introduced by humans to a new region spread rapidly and reach high abundances. According to the current paradigm, these invasive alien species profit from a different ecological and evolutionary history than the recipient biotic community (2): They might have advantageous traits not present in the new ecosystem, be released from natural enemies that did not travel with them, or profit from the naivety of new neighbors that did not learn to counter their weapons (3). However, these hypotheses neglect the influence of humans, who determine invasion patterns through socioeconomic activities (4). In today's Anthropocene era, humans not only facilitate invasions, but also shape the mechanisms driving invasions.