Current and future climatic regions favourable for a globally introduced wild carnivore, the raccoon Procyon lotor.
Invasive species are considered as one of the major threats to biodiversity and represent a major challenge in the conservation of natural ecosystems, in preventing damage to agricultural production, and human health risks. Environmental Niche Modelling has emerged as a powerful tool to predict the patterns of range expansion of non-native species and to direct effective strategies for managing biological invasions. The raccoon, Procyon lotor, is a wild mesocarnivore presenting a high adaptability and showing successful introduced populations worldwide. Here, we modelled the current and future climatically favourable areas for the raccoon using two protocols, based on data sets filtrated in geographic and environmental spaces. Projections from these models show extensive current favourable geographical areas covering extensive regions of temperate biomes. Moreover, predictions for 2050 reveals extensive new favourable areas north of the current favourable regions. However, the results of the two modeling approaches differ in the extent of predicted favourable spaces. Protocols using geographically filtered data present more conservative forecasts, while protocol using environmental filtration presents forecasts across greater areas. Given the biological characteristics and the ecological requirements of a generalist carnivore such as the raccoon, the latter forecasts appears more relevant and should be privileged in the development of conservation plans for ecosystems.