The Mediterranean basin was the world’s cradle of agriculture and the first human civilisation. In the Neolithic age, the agrarian culture expanded throughout the Mediterranean basin from the East to the West. Later, an expansion of agrarian culture and trade occurred, associated with the European colonialism, giving rise to a great plant exchange among Mediterranean‐type regions. Despite being a biodiversity hotspot, the Mediterranean biome has been subjected to several anthropic impacts, such as alteration of land‐use and cross‐introductions of exotic species. The millenary anthropic modification of the landscape occurred in the Mediterranean basin gave rise to the formation of seminatural systems in which plants co‐evolved with anthropogenic activities over a long time. Thus, species that originated in the Mediterranean basin might have developed a key role in other agro‐silvo‐pastoral systems along the whole Mediterranean biome. Research is biased towards highlighting the negative impact of exotic species on the ecosystems. To defy the traditional belief, outstanding recent literature focused on the positive effects of exotics on native communities was reviewed. Exotic species seem to have a key role in Mediterranean‐type seminatural systems, as evidences of tolerance and facilitation processes were found. Exotic species that have co‐evolved with human practices over millennia seem to enhance biodiversity in the Mediterranean biome.
Part of the book: Mediterranean Identities