Human activity is altering the world’s zoogeographical regions
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Global wildlife maps are being redrawn due to people introducing species into areas outside their natural range.
Zooregions are geographical zones delineated by the animals that thrive there thanks to conditions created over millions of years of ecological and evolutionary processes.
These zones are now changing on a human time scale, a team led by researchers from the Spanish National Research Council has shown.
They used global data on species distributions to map zooregions, firstly with native species alone and then including invasive species.
The team found that these, sometimes accidental, additions are altering wildlife zones around the world. For example, black rats that stowed away on ships from Asia helped blur the lines between African and Eurasian mammal zooregions.
Understanding how human activity affects wildlife zones could help conservationists identify and protect unique pockets of biodiversity.
- Ecology Letters 22, 1297–1305 (2019). doi: 10.1111/ele.13321