Predicting global invaders and regions at risk of invasion

This study takes global view on invasive plant species, identifies potential invasion hotspots, and links invasion to human activity.

Data resources used via GBIF : 1,540,000 species occurrences
Sweet acacia (Vachellia farnesiana)

Sweet acacia (Vachellia farnesiana) by jorgetrevino via NaturaLista. Photo licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

Species invasion is a major global concern, and identifying potential invasive regions before they are invaded is crucial. In this study, researchers selected 308 species of invasive plant species, gathered occurrence data from GBIF, and created species distribution models based on climatic, topographic and human activity data using nine different modelling approaches. Their results show invasion hotspots, defined as regions under threat from more than 100 different invasive species, in the Southeastern United States, Eastern South America, Southeast Asia, Southeast Australia and New Zealand. While abundance of alien species showed weak correlations with both mean annual temperature and precipitation, topographic wetness and solar radiation, the most significant correlation was found for human footprint. Turning to world’s 100 worst invasive species, the study also examined the species with the largest potential invasive distributions, identifying among others the castorbean (Ricinus communis), the dwarf copperleaf (Alternanthera sessilis) and sweet acacia (Vachellia farnesiana).

Citations

Wang Y and Xu Z (2016) Where are the Alien Species? Predictions of Global Plant Species Invasions under Current Environmental Conditions and the Human Footprint. Polish Journal of Environmental Studies. HARD Publishing Company 25(4): 1729–1738. Available at doi:10.15244/pjoes/62094.

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