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The Importance of the Human Footprint in Shaping the Global Distribution of Terrestrial, Freshwater and Marine Invaders

AuthorsGallardo, Belinda ; Zieritz, Alexandra; Aldridge, D. C.
Keywordsinvasive species
Marine environments
Fresh water
Marine geology
Population density
Marine ecosystems
Issue Date27-May-2015
PublisherPublic Library of Science
CitationPLoS ONE 10(5): e0125801 (2015)
AbstractHuman activities such as transport, trade and tourism are likely to influence the spatial distribution of non-native species and yet, Species Distribution Models (SDMs) that aim to predict the future broad scale distribution of invaders often rely on environmental (e.g. climatic) information only. This study investigates if and to what extent do human activities that directly or indirectly influence nature (hereafter the human footprint) affect the global distribution of invasive species in terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems. We selected 72 species including terrestrial plants, terrestrial animals, freshwater and marine invasive species of concern in a focus area located in NW Europe (encompassing Great Britain, France, The Netherlands and Belgium). Species Distribution Models were calibrated with the global occurrence of species and a set of high-resolution (9×9 km) environmental (e.g. topography, climate, geology) layers and human footprint proxies (e.g. the human influence index, population density, road proximity). Our analyses suggest that the global occurrence of a wide range of invaders is primarily limited by climate. Temperature tolerance was the most important factor and explained on average 42% of species distribution. Nevertheless, factors related to the human footprint explained a substantial amount (23% on average) of species distributions. When global models were projected into the focus area, spatial predictions integrating the human footprint featured the highest cumulative risk scores close to transport networks (proxy for invasion pathways) and in habitats with a high human influence index (proxy for propagule pressure). We conclude that human related information–currently available in the form of easily accessible maps and databases—should be routinely implemented into predictive frameworks to inform upon policies to prevent and manage invasions. Otherwise we might be seriously underestimating the species and areas under highest risk of future invasions.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0125801
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