Potential invasion of exotic ambrosia beetles Xyleborus glabratus and Euwallacea sp. in Mexico: a major threat for native and cultivated forest ecosystems.
We analyze the invasive potential of two Asian ambrosia beetles, Xyleborus glabratus and Euwallacea sp., into Mexico and the southern United States. The fungal symbionts of these beetles have been responsible for damage to trees of the family Lauraceae, including Persea americana and other non-cultivated tree species on both coasts of the United States. We estimate their potential threat using ecological niche modeling and spatial multi-criteria evaluation protocols to incorporate plant and beetle suitabilities as well as forest stress factors across Mexico. Mexico contains higher climatic and habitat suitability for X. glabratus than for Euwallacea sp. Within this country, the neotropical region is most vulnerable to invasion by both of these species. We also identify a corridor of potential invasion for X. glabratus along the Gulf of Mexico coast where most Lauraceae and native Xyleborus species are present; dispersal of either X. glabratus or Euwallacea sp. into this region would likely lead to major disease spread. However, the overall potential damage that these beetles can cause may be a function of how many reproductive hosts and how many other ambrosia beetles are present, as well as of their capacity to disperse. This work can also alert relevant managers and authorities regarding this threat.