Pattern and process of biotic homogenization in the New Pangaea.

Pattern and process of biotic homogenization in the New Pangaea.

Proc Biol Sci. 2012 Oct 10;

Authors: Baiser B, Olden JD, Record S, Lockwood JL, McKinney ML

Human activities have reorganized the earth’s biota resulting in spatially disparate locales becoming more or less similar in species composition over time through the processes of biotic homogenization and biotic differentiation, respectively. Despite mounting evidence suggesting that this process may be widespread in both aquatic and terrestrial systems, past studies have predominantly focused on single taxonomic groups at a single spatial scale. Furthermore, change in pairwise similarity is itself dependent on two distinct processes, spatial turnover in species composition and changes in gradients of species richness. Most past research has failed to disentangle the effect of these two mechanisms on homogenization patterns. Here, we use recent statistical advances and collate a global database of homogenization studies (20 studies, 50 datasets) to provide the first global investigation of the homogenization process across major faunal and floral groups and elucidate the relative role of changes in species richness and turnover. We found evidence of homogenization (change in similarity ranging from -0.02 to 0.09) across nearly all taxonomic groups, spatial extent and grain sizes. Partitioning of change in pairwise similarity shows that overall change in community similarity is driven by changes in species richness. Our results show that biotic homogenization is truly a global phenomenon and put into question many of the ecological mechanisms invoked in previous studies to explain patterns of homogenization.

PMID: 23055062 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

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