Plant Biodiversity in Anthromes

Human systems have reshaped biodiversity across the terrestrial biosphere

Anthromes undergo anthropogenic succession as native ecosystems are transformed into anthrome mosaics: multifunctional landscapes composed of a mix of Used and Novel ecosystems.

Anthropogenic succession transforms biodiversity in biotic communities in response to cultivation, harvesting and management of populations, domestication (crops, livestock, ornamentals, pets, native cultivation), facilitated introductions and invasions of exotic species, as well as habitat fragmentation and the transformation of land into agricultural lands and settlements.

All is not Loss: Plant Biodiversity in the Anthropocene

Major Results

  • The first spatially explicit assessment of the anthropogenic global patterns of vascular plant species richness shaped by human populations and their use of land at regional landscape scale.
  • What we don’t know about the global patterns of plant biodiversity exceeds what we do know: model predictions were needed to map both native and anthropogenic plant species richness at regional landscape scales.
  • Model predictions indicate that human systems have caused a net increase in plant species richness across more than two thirds of the terrestrial biosphere, mostly by facilitating exotic species invasions.
  • Exotic species increases are generally associated with and usually exceed native losses. Together these may represent a general process of anthropogenic ecological succession, leading to the widespread emergence of novel ecosystems.
  • Global stewardship of biodiversity will require fundamental advances in global scientific understanding of how native species can be conserved within the novel plant communities created and sustained by human systems across most of the terrestrial biosphere in the Anthropocene.


Ellis, Erle C.; Antill, Erica C.; Kreft, Holger. 2012. All is not loss: plant biodiversity in the Anthropocene. PLoS ONE 7: e30535. [Download PDF]

Media Coverage

Andrew Revkin Dot Earth Blog (New York Times) How Humans Spread Both Ecological Disruption and Diversity. January 19, 2012.