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Title: Globalization of flora: inviting worldwide ecosystem disaster.

Author: Carey, Andrew B.;

Date: 2002

Source: Renewable Resources Journal. 20(1): 13-17.

Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication

Description: Meeting the needs of expanding human populations has changed land use worldwide and presented a biodiversity crisis. Emerging related concerns are threats to native species from homogenization of world flora and the spread of exotic species by human activities (Soule 1990, United States Congress, Office of Technology Assessment 1993, Wilcove and others 1998, Soule and Terbogh 1999). The benefits to people of domestication and spread of food and fiber plants such as wheat, corn, potatoes, and cotton are well known (Diamond 1998). Catastrophes caused by introduced diseases such as chestnut blight and Dutch elm disease are also well known. Less catastrophic introductions of other organisms that can spread rapidly, from West Nile virus to kudzu (Pueraria lobata) to aquatic plants and animals, have provoked local headlines and costly control efforts. Less recognized are the less spectacular effects of introduced species such as cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum), which has changed the fire ecology and degraded the quality of rangelands in much of the West, and starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), which have become not only an urban and agricultural pest, but also a threat to some indigenous birds. Damage from introduced exotics exceeds $138 billion per year (Rossman 2001). Recent research, however; points to even more pernicious phenomena. Agriculture and timber management deliberately simplify vegetation, in similar fashions around the world, creating homogeneous environmental conditions that benefit a few rapidly spreading species to the detriment of many other, especially indigenous, species (Mack and others 2000, Mooney and Hobbs 2000, Mack and Lonsdale 2001).

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Carey, Andrew B. 2002. Globalization of flora: inviting worldwide ecosystem disaster. Renewable Resources Journal. 20(1): 13-17.

 


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