Species introduced from nearby sources have a more homogenizing effect than species from distant sources: evidence from plants and fishes in the USA


Michael L. McKinney, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA. E-mail: mmckinne@utk.edu


Biotic homogenization is occurring in many biota as widespread introduced species are replacing unique native species. Although efforts to document homogenization have increased, no studies have explicitly compared the homogenizing effects of species introduced from distant areas to the homogenizing effects of species introduced from more proximate areas. The author analysed three data sets, at different scales and in different taxa, that distinguish species introduced from distant sources (e.g. outside the US) from species introduced from less distant sources (e.g. within the United States). These data include: plant introductions among eight major US cities and fish introductions among 12 US states and among 10 watersheds from New York state. The authors found that, for all data sets, species introduced from less distant sources (within the US) have a greater homogenizing effect on community composition than species from more distant sources (outside the US). In agreement with other studies, the author also find that, in terms of absolute numbers, introductions from nearby sources are far more frequent than introduction of species from distant sources. While tentative, these findings point out the importance of considering species introduced from nearby areas (e.g., extralimital native species) when discussing biotic homogenization from human activities.