Compositional similarity among urban floras within and across continents: biogeographical consequences of human-mediated biotic interchange



    1. Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia, MO 65211, USA,
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    1. Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA,
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    1. Institute of Botany, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, CZ-252 43 Průhonice, Czech Republic,
    2. Department of Ecology, Faculty of Science, Charles University, Viničná 7, CZ-128 01 Praha 2, Czech Republic
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Frank A. La Sorte, tel. +1 573 875 5341 ext.226, fax +1 573 884 5070, e-mail:


Anthropogenic activities have weakened biogeographical barriers to dispersal resulting in the global spread and establishment of an increasing number of non-native species. We examine the broad-scale consequences of this phenomenon based on an analysis of compositional similarity across urban floras in the northeastern United States and Europe. We test the prediction that homogenization of species composition is uniquely defined within vs. between continents based on the time and place of origin of non-native species. In this case, for archaeophytes and neophytes in Europe (introduced before and after ad 1500, respectively) and non-native species originating from within and outside the United States. More species in urban floras were shared within than between continents. Within Europe, archaeophytes shared more species across urban floras compared with neophytes; strong associations were not observed for non-native species across US urban floras. Between the two continents, non-native species in the United States that originated from outside the United States shared species primarily with archaeophytes but also with European natives and neophytes. These results suggest that the direction of biotic interchange was unidirectional with species moving primarily from Europe to the United States with archaeophytes playing a primary and non-native species originating from outside the two continents a secondary role as a homogenizing source. Archaeophytes, based on combination of biogeographical, evolutionary, and ecological factors in association with a long history of anthropogenic influence, appear to have played a prominent role in the continental and intercontinental homogenization of species composition. This suggests that the uniform homogenization of the Earth's biota is not imminent and is presently directed by a combination of biogeographically defined anthropogenic and historical factors.