Invasive plants distribution modeling: a tool for tropical biodiversity conservation with special reference to Sri Lanka.
The potential threats and habitat preferences of noxious plants in tropical countries are poorly known. Species distribution modeling (SDM) is a robust tool that can be used in conservation planning for early detection of invasion risks. However, the use of SDM for the strategic management of increasing risks of such plant invasions in Sri Lanka has not been undertaken due to several underlying reasons including the long-lasting data gap, technical, technological, and financial issues. In addition, the literature relevant to SDM applications in the country is substantially poor, scattered, and unpublished. Therefore, in this article, we explore SDM applications relevant to invasive plants in Sri Lanka with implications similar to other countries in the tropics. We examine the challenges and potentials for utilization of SDM technology in conservation planning in Sri Lanka and discuss data gap as a major obstacle. We also identify the potential SDM interventions relevant to invasive plants control and management in Sri Lanka and recommend conservation planners to prioritize them and apply for the strategic management of invasive plants in Sri Lanka. Finally, we suggest some recommendations to make an enabling environment in relevant institutions for the utilization of SDM technology in ecosystem management planning in Sri Lanka.