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From Human Geography to Biological Invasions: The Black Rat Distribution in the Changing Southeastern of Senegal

Abstract : In the contemporary context of zoonosis emergence and spread, invasive species are a major issue since they represent potential pathogen hosts. Even though many progresses have been done to understand and predict spatial patterns of invasive species, the challenge to identify the underlying determinants of their distribution remains a central question in invasion biology. This is particularly exacerbated in the case of commensal species that strictly depend on humankind for dispersal and perennial establishment of new populations. The distribution of these species is predicted to be influenced by dispersal opportunities and conditions acting on establishment and proliferation, such as environmental characteristics , including spatio-temporal components of the human societies. We propose to contribute to the understanding of the recent spread of a major invasive rodent species, the black rat (Rattus rattus), in the changing southeastern of Senegal. We address the factors that promote the dispersal and distribution of this invasive rodent from the perspective of human geography. We first describe characteristics of human settlements in terms of social and spatial organization of human societies (i.e. economic activities, commercial and agricultural networks, roads connectivity). We then explore the relationship between these characteristics and the distribution of this invasive rodent. Finally we propose that historical and contemporary dynamics of human societies have contributed to the risk of invasion of the black rat. We argue that the diffusion processes of invasive species cannot be considered as a result of the spatial structure only (i.e. connectivity and distance), but as a part of the human territory that includes the social and spatial organization. Results suggest that the distribution of invasive rodents partly results from the contemporary and inherited human socio-spatial systems, beyond the existence of suitable ecological conditions that are classically investigated by biologists.
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Héloïse Lucaccioni, Laurent Granjon, Ambroise Dalecky, Odile Fossati, Jean Le Fur, et al.. From Human Geography to Biological Invasions: The Black Rat Distribution in the Changing Southeastern of Senegal. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2016, 11 (9), pp.e0163547. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0163547.t003⟩. ⟨hal-01463769⟩

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