The threat of biological invasions is likely to change with climate conditions, and identifying species and regions of risk is becoming a priority. This study presents a general framework that relies on currently introduced and related species for recognizing species that may become invasive in the future.
By applying a series of questions, the researchers demonstrate the framework on the Australian Alp region, which is rapidly warming. For three already introduced species of hawkweed (Hieracium spp.) as well as a missing relative species (H. murorum) present in a neighbouring region, they combine GBIF-mediated occurrences and climate data to construct niche models to determine climatic suitability in the future. By considering climatically similar regions worldwide as sources, they identify another relative (H. pringlei), with potential to become invasive in the future.
The addition of phylogeny in the proposed framework allows for identification of potential invaders in the absence of species-specific knowledge.