Potential distribution of the invasive freshwater dinoflagellate Ceratium furcoides (Levander) Langhans (Dinophyta) in South America.
Dinoflagellates of the genus Ceratium are predominantly found in marine environments, with a few species in inland waters. Over the last decades, the freshwater species Ceratium hirundinella and Ceratium furcoides have colonized and invaded several South American basins. The purpose of this study was to create a distribution model for the invasive dinoflagellate C. furcoides in South America in order to further investigate the basins at potential risk, as well as the environmental conditions that influence its expansion. This species is known to develop blooms due to its mobility, resistance to sedimentation, and optimized use of resources. Although nontoxic, blooms of the species cause many problems to both the natural ecosystems and water users. Potential distribution was predicted by using a maximum entropy algorithm (MaxEnt). Model was run with 101 occurrences obtained from the scientific literature, and climatic, hydrological and topographic variables. The developed model had a very good performance for the study area. The most susceptible areas identified were mainly concentrated in the basins between southeastern Brazil and northeastern Argentina. Besides already affected regions, new potentially suitable areas were identified in temperate regions of South America. The information generated here will be useful for authorities responsible for water and watershed management to monitor the spread of this species and address problems related to its establishment in new environments.