Predicting invasions of Wedelia trilobata (L.) Hitchc. with Maxent and GARP models.
Wedelia trilobata (L.) Hitchc., an ornamental groundcover plant introduced to areas around the world from Central America, has become invasive in many regions. To increase understanding of its geographic distribution and potential extent of spread, two presence-only niche-based modeling approaches (Maxent and GARP) were employed to create models based on occurrence records from its: (1) native range only and (2) full range (native and invasive). Models were then projected globally to identify areas vulnerable to W. trilobata invasion. W. trilobata prefers hot and humid environments and can occur in areas with different environmental conditions than experienced in its native range. Based on native and full occurrence points, GARP and Maxent models produced consistent distributional maps of W. trilobata, although Maxent model results were more conservative. When used to estimate the global invasive distribution of the species, both modeling approaches projected the species to occur in Africa. The GARP full model succeeded in predicting the known occurrences in Australia, while the other models failed to identify favorable habitats in this region. Given the rapid spread of W. trilobata and the serious risk of this species poses to local ecosystems, practical strategies to prevent the establishment and expansion of this species should be sought.