Widespread homogenization of plant communities in the Anthropocene


Native biodiversity decline and non-native species spread are major features of the Anthropocene. Both processes can drive biotic homogenization by reducing trait and phylogenetic differences in species assemblages between regions, thus diminishing the regional distinctiveness of biotas and likely have negative impacts on key ecosystem functions. However, a global assessment of this phenomenon is lacking. Here, using a dataset of >200,000 plant species, we demonstrate widespread and temporal decreases in species and phylogenetic turnover across grain sizes and spatial extents. The extent of homogenization within major biomes is pronounced and is overwhelmingly explained by non-native species naturalizations. Asia and North America are major sources of non-native species; however, the species they export tend to be phylogenetically close to recipient floras. Australia, the Pacific and Europe, in contrast, contribute fewer species to the global pool of non-natives, but represent a disproportionate amount of phylogenetic diversity. The timeline of most naturalisations coincides with widespread human migration within the last ~500 years, and demonstrates the profound influence humans exert on regional biotas beyond changes in species richness.



widespread, anthropocene, plant


We thank Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and the Harvard University Herbaria for logistic and financial support. Funding: B.H.D. was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation (awards 2031928, and 2113424) and Texas Parks and Wildlife (award F21AF03049-00), C.C.D. was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation (awards 1208835, 1802209, and 1754584), M.Z. and M.P were supported by the University of Tartu (PLTOM20903), Estonian Research Council (PRG609, PRG1065), and by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (Centre of Excellence EcolChange).


Attribution 4.0 International


Daru, B.H., Davies, T.J., Willis, C.G., Meineke, E.K., Ronk, A., Zobel, M., Pärtel, M., Antonelli, A. and Davis, C.C., 2021. Widespread homogenization of plant communities in the Anthropocene. Nature communications, 12(1), pp.1-10.