Climate change alters global risk of invasive weeds

Study finds overall decrease in global climatic suitability for 32 invasive species, but at the expense of some regions facing higher risk of invasion by the year 2050

Data resources used via GBIF : 32 species
Sphagneticola trilobata
Sphagneticola trilobata (L.) Pruski observed in Macao by Jeremy J Busfield (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Invasive weeds are a global threat with the potential to cause ecological and economic losses. Impacts of anthropogenic climate change are likely to include shifts in ranges of not only native but also invasive species.

This study focused on 32 invasive weed species and future changes to distributions and overlaps on a global scale. Using GBIF-mediated occurrences coupled with Worldclim climatic projections at varying severities, the authors created species distributions models based on the MaxEnt algorithm to visualize the current state of the invasive species compared to a prediction in the year 2050.

Current climatic conditions predicted the largest spatial overlaps of species in coastal Australia, South Africa, Madagascar, western Iberian peninsula, Morocco, Mexico, and southern Brazil, with the largest potential co-occurrence of 28 species.

By 2050, the models predicted overall suitability decreases at the global scale, but that large regions of both Africa and South America will be highly suitable and at great risk for invasions. Most of Europe will also be suitable for several invasive species and the only continent with a net gain in suitable area.

On the other hand, certain regions, like central Australia and parts of Angola, Botswana, Iran and Argentina, are predicted to be free of any risk from the 32 investigated species.

Shabani F, Ahmadi M, Kumar L, Solhjouy-fard S, Shafapour Tehrany M, Shabani F, Kalantar B and Esmaeili A (2020) Invasive weed species’ threats to global biodiversity: Future scenarios of changes in the number of invasive species in a changing climate. Ecological Indicators. Elsevier BV 116: 106436. Available at: