Modelling hotspots for invasive alien plants in India.
Identification of invasion hotspots that support multiple invasive alien species (IAS) is a pre-requisite for control and management of invasion. However, till recently it remained a methodological challenge to precisely determine such invasive hotspots. We identified the hotspots of alien species invasion in India through Ecological Niche Modelling (ENM) using species occurrence data from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). The predicted area of invasion for selected species were classified into 4 categories based on number of model agreements for a region i.e. high, medium, low and very low. About 49% of the total geographical area of India was predicted to be prone to invasion at moderate to high levels of climatic suitability. The intersection of anthropogenic biomes and ecoregions with the regions of 'high' climatic suitability was classified as hotspot of alien plant invasion. Nineteen of 47 ecoregions of India, harboured such hotspots. Most ecologically sensitive regions of India, including the 'biodiversity hotspots' and coastal regions coincide with invasion hotspots, indicating their vulnerability to alien plant invasion. Besides demonstrating the usefulness of ENM and open source data for IAS management, the present study provides a knowledge base for guiding the formulation of an effective policy and management strategy for controlling the invasive alien species.