How does the human footprint affect distribution of invasive species?

By focusing on a portion of Europe that includes Great Britain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, this study examines the influence of environmental and anthropogenic factors on global distribution of invasive species.

Data resources used via GBIF : 72 species
Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes albopictus) observed by zanskar (via iNaturalist). One of the species modelled in the study. Native to Asia, invasive in France, Belgium and Netherlands and many other countries. Photo licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes albopictus) observed by zanskar (via iNaturalist). One of the species modelled in the study. Native to Asia, invasive in France, Belgium and Netherlands and many other countries. Photo licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

By focusing on a portion of Europe that includes Great Britain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, this study examines the influence of environmental and anthropogenic factors on global distribution of invasive species. Researchers created species distribution models (SDMs) of 72 invasive species (terrestrial plants and animals as well as freshwater and marine organisms), using GBIF-mediated and climatic data, geophysical variables, and five anthropogenic variables as proxies of the human footprint. They found temperature to be the most important overall factor, accounting for about half the distribution in the terrestrial and freshwater species. However, human footprint measures like closeness to ports or roads explained as much as a quarter of the distribution. All models showed a consistent correlation to human habitat use and identified urban areas close to major ports as hotspots for potential invasion.

Citations

Gallardo, B., Zieritz, A., & Aldridge, D. C. (2015). The importance of the human footprint in shaping the global distribution of terrestrial, freshwater and marine invaders. PloS ONE, 10(5), e0125801. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0125801

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