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Global biogeographical regions reveal a signal of past human impacts

Rueda, M., González-Suárez, M. ORCID: and Revilla, E. (2023) Global biogeographical regions reveal a signal of past human impacts. Ecography. e06762. ISSN 1600-0587

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/ecog.06762


Ecologists have long documented that the world’s biota is spatially organised in regions with boundaries shaped by processes acting on geological and evolutionary timescales. Although growing evidence suggests that historical human impact has been key in how biodiversity is currently assembled, its role as a driver of the geographical organisation of biodiversity remains unclear. Using non-volant terrestrial mammals we set up a bioregionalization procedure focused on two datasets, one describing the current ranges of terrestrial mammals, and another describing their potential natural ranges in absence of historic anthropogenic land use. We then quantified the relative importance of anthropogenic land use (5000 and 2000 years ago, and present time) to predict the current and natural biogeographical regions across the Earth. In general, past and present human land use were important predictors of current bioregions but did not largely contribute to predict natural bioregions. Past anthropogenic land use seems to have left an imprint on the taxonomic differentiation of some of the largest biogeographical realms, whereas land use at present stands out as a driver of the taxonomic differences between medium-sized subregions, i.e. within and among continents. Our findings suggest that anthropogenic actions during the last millennia have had a far-reaching effect on the spatial organisation of the Earth’s non-volant mammals.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:114221


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