Patterns of selectivity in introductions of mammal species worldwide

Blackburn, Tim M. ; Scrivens, Sally L. ; Heinrich, Sarah ; Cassey, Phillip (2017-01-27)

CITATION: Blackburn, T. M., et al. 2017. Patterns of selectivity in introductions of mammal species worldwide. NeoBiota, 33:33-51, doi:10.3897/neobiota.33.10471.

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ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Humans have an extremely long history of transporting and introducing mammal species outside their native geographic ranges. The characteristics of the species introduced (taxonomy, life-history, ecology, environment) can all influence which traits are available (and selected) for establishment, and subsequent invasive spread. Understanding the non-randomness in species introductions is therefore key to understanding invasions by alien species. Here, we test for selectivity in the identities and traits of mammal species introduced worldwide. We compiled and analysed a comprehensive database of introduced mammal species, including information on a broad range of life history, ecological, distributional and environmental variables that we predicted to differ between introduced and non-introduced mammal species. Certain mammal taxa are much more likely to have been introduced than expected, such as Artiodactyls in the families Bovidae and Cervidae. Rodents and bats were much less likely to have been introduced than expected. Introduced mammal species have significantly larger body masses, longer lifespans and larger litter sizes than a random sample of all mammal species. They also have much larger native geographic ranges than expected, originate from significantly further north, from cooler areas, and from areas with higher human population densities, than mammal species with no recorded introductions. The traits and distributions of species help determine which have been introduced, and reflect how the evolutionary history of mammals has resulted in certain species with certain traits being located in the way of human histories of movement and demands for goods and services. The large amount of unexplained variation is likely to relate to the intrinsically stochastic nature of this human-driven process.

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