Trans-national modelling for invasive alien plants
To protect vulnerable habitats, agricultural systems and native biodiversity from the negative impacts of invasive alien plant species, studies are required to predict the spread of species at an international scale. Predicting and subsequently managing invasive plant species across international borders can incur several problems which can be categorized as (1) political – one country is not as concerned with the spread compared to others, (2) ecological – habitats and their resilience to invasion differ across borders, and (3) geographical – landscape structures can be different between neighbouring countries giving different levels of natural barriers or providing corridors for spread. One tool that has been utilised to predict the spread of invasive alien plants are species distribution models (SDMs). The potential distribution of Acacia dealbata (Fabaceae: EPPO List of Invasive Alien Plants) was predicted using SDMs in the northwest Iberian Peninsula (Portugal and Spain) under current and future climatic conditions. Presence data for the species was collected along with environmental data. The model was then run under three different scenarios (1) the model was run for each country separately and spatially combined to obtain the final output, (2) the model was run for the whole area using the occurrence data separately for Portugal and Spain, and (3) a model for both countries (transnational occurrence data) was used. The SDM using the transnational occurrence data and the model using just the Portugal occurrence data presented similar patterns but the distribution prediction was higher with the former. The model using the transnational occurrence data was considered to capture a more complete and accurate representation of the species ecological niche. Therefore, the authors suggest that this type of model is more suitable and appropriate to inform decision-makers when considering species with the potential of spreading trans-nationally.
Fernandes RF, Honrado JP, Guisan A, Roxo A, Alves P, Martins J, Vicente JR (2019) Species distribution models support the need of international cooperation towards successful management of plant invasions. Journal for nature Conservation 49, 85-94.