Biotic Homogenisation

Abstract

Biotic homogenisation is the process by which species invasions and extinctions increase the genetic, taxonomic or functional similarity of two or more locations over a specified time interval. Recent years have witnessed enhanced interest and research effort in the study of biotic homogenisation across taxonomic groups and geographic regions, with the first article published over 20 years ago. Despite sustained interest, past research efforts have been unevenly distributed with regard to taxonomic groups and ecosystems. Biotic homogenisation of vertebrate and plant communities have been studied the most, while invertebrates have received little attention. Concurrent with heightened quantification of biotic homogenisation, is continued clarification on the significant ecological, evolutionary and social consequences of this phenomenon. Biotic homogenisation is now considered one of the most prominent forms of biotic impoverishment worldwide, and it will likely continue to increase in response to anthropogenic forces associated with growing human populations.

Key Concepts

  • In the wake of continued human‚Äźdriven species invasions and extinctions, the process of biotic homogenisation has rapidly emerged as a topic of interest in conservation biology.
  • Biotic homogenisation is the process by which species invasions and extinctions increase the genetic, taxonomic or functional similarity of two or more locations over a specified time interval.
  • This is a unique research challenge, because it is a multifaceted process that subsumes many aspects of the modern biodiversity crisis, including species invasions, extirpations and environmental alteration.
  • Current knowledge of the patterns, mechanisms and implications of biotic homogenisation is highly variable across taxonomic groups, but in general is most complete for freshwater fishes, birds and plants.
  • Biotic homogenisation is an important dimension of the modern biodiversity crisis having significant ecological, evolutionary and social implications.

Keywords: biological diversity; richness; invasive species; extinction; global change

Figure 1. Illustration of how species invasions and extinctions can cause either biotic homogenisation or differentiation, depending on the identity of the species involved. A pair of communities for each scenario is illustrated where introduction events are represented by the arrow and appearance of a species icon. For simplicity, no species go extinct. Both scenarios share the same species pool (four native fish species, two nonnative fish species) and species richness. Community similarity is presented as a percentage.
Figure 2. Cumulative number of published articles through time quantifying patterns of biotic homogenisation between at least two separate time periods and classified according to major taxonomic groups. Results from a search of the literature using as search terms on ISI Web of KnowledgeSM (10 March 2016). Only studies reporting changes in community similarity between at least two separate time periods were included.
Figure 3. Number of studies (expressed as a percentage) reporting a positive (homogenisation) or negative (differentiation) change in taxonomic community similarity according to the literature review (Figure).
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Further Reading

Baiser B, Olden JD, Record S, Lockwood JL and McKinney ML (2012b) Pattern and process of biotic homogenization in the New Pangaea. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 279: 4772–4777.

Castro SA, Muñoz M and Jaksic FM (2007) Transit towards floristic homogenization on oceanic islands in the south‐eastern Pacific: comparing pre‐European and current floras. Journal of Biogeography 34: 213–222.

Devictor V, Julliard R, Couvet D, Lee A and Jiguet F (2007) Functional homogenization of urbanization on bird communities. Conservation Biology 21: 741–751.

Leprieur F, Beauchard O, Hugueny B, Grenouillet G and Brosse S (2008) Null model of biotic homogenization: a test with the European freshwater fish fauna. Diversity and Distributions 14: 291–300.

Olden JD (2006b) Biotic homogenization: a new research agenda for conservation biogeography. Journal of Biogeography 33: 2027–2039.

Olden JD and Rooney TP (2006) On defining and quantifying biotic homogenization. Global Ecology and Biogeography 15: 113–120.

Poff NL, Olden JD, Merritt DM and Pepin DM (2007) Homogenization of regional river dynamics by dams and global biodiversity implications. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 104: 5732–5737.

Rahel FJ (2002) Homogenization of freshwater faunas. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 33: 291–315.

Schulte LA, Mladenoff DJ, Crow TR, Merrick LC and Cleland DT (2007) Homogenization of northern U.S. Great Lakes forests due to land use. Landscape Ecology 22: 1089–1103.

Van Turnhout CAM, Foppen RPB, Leuven RSEW, Siepel H and Esselink H (2007b) Scale‐dependent homogenization: changes in breeding bird diversity in the Netherlands over a 25‐year period. Biological Conservation 134: 505–516.

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How to Cite close
Olden, Julian D, Comte, Lise, and Giam, Xingli(Aug 2016) Biotic Homogenisation. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0020471.pub2]