The importance of globalisation in driving the introduction and establishment of alien species in Europe

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Understanding the role of globalisation in promoting introduction and establishment of alien species is an important step towards successful management of biological invasions. We aimed to quantify the taxon-dependent association of globalisation with the introduction and establishment of alien species in Europe. The availability of the KOF index of globalisation that measures all economic, social and political dimensions of global connectivity enables a study of this factor. Based on an extensive database of alien species, we used model selections based on the Akaike information criterion and hierarchical partitioning to identify the importance of globalisation in predicting the number of all introduced species and established species of ten mainly terrestrial taxa in countries across Europe. The association of globalisation with alien species establishment varied depending on taxon type. While the gross domestic product (GDP) of countries was a strong predictor for all but one taxon, globalisation was also found to be an important predictor for three taxa including those of high (e.g. insects) and low mobility (e.g. magnoliophyta). Globalisation explained 3.1 to 22% independently, and 5.5 to 35% jointly with other variables, of among-country variations in the number of established alien species. The effect of globalisation on the distribution of all introduced species is not substantially different from that on the established alien species. This study highlights how globalisation among habitat availability and environmental conditions can determine the patterns of alien species introduction and establishment across Europe. The results also emphasise the varying degree of importance between different taxa. Knowledge of the relative significance of various pathways with regard to different taxa is important for correctly focusing efforts to reduce the spread of these species.

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