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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  • RE: Birds point the way to incorporating the human-activity hypothesis in invasion biology
    • Salit Kark, Conservation Scientist, ecologist, University of Queensland

    In a recent Perspective, Kueffer (1) raises an important point – that today, in what some term the Anthropocene, human activity has a major role in shaping biotic invasions. Kueffer (2017) suggests that the current paradigm and invasion hypotheses should explicitly address this. The paper focuses on plant invasions. It is important to note that over the past decade, significant progress is being achieved in this space in avian studies across invasion phases, from introduction and establishment through spread to invasion and impact. Multiple case studies now suggest that incorporating human-related factors helps better understand and predict avian invasion, supporting the human-activity hypothesis (2–5) and changing paradigms. We now know that beyond ecological and environmental factors, socio-economic, as well as political and historical factors, can be key in shaping invasions over space and time (3).

    For example, socio-political and historic factors, such as economic isolation between Eastern and Western Europe during the Cold War, have been the major factor shaping introduction and richness of alien birds in Europe (6). Correspondingly, recent global scale analyses suggest that human-related factors, such as colonial history and economic factors (e.g., 4) are important in shaping introduced avian species richness. Incorporating these factors when predicting and managing invasions can save time and limited resources. Future work should aim to refine the human-act...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.

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