Spatial modelling the effects of climate change on the distribution of Lantana camara in southern Zimbabwe.
Although climate change influences the distribution of invasive plant species, there is limited knowledge regarding its potential effects on Lantana camara distributions, especially in southern African savanna ecosystems. In this study, we predict the potential effects of climate change on the future distribution of Lantana camara as well as determine the ecosystems at risk from Lantana camara invasion in Matabeleland South Province of Zimbabwe. To do this, ensemble modelling consisting of three Species Distribution Models (SDMs) was coupled with three Global Circulation Models (GCMs) and two climate scenarios (Representative Concentration Pathways) for the 2070s. Results show that, on average, the bioclimatically suitable habitat of Lantana camara is projected to increase in the province by between ~3 and 33% and 32 and 82% under RCP 2.6 and RCP8.5, respectively. On average, the habitat suitability of Lantana camara is projected to increase by 5892 km2, which is about 65% of the total area of southern Zimbabwe. The northern parts of the province are more likely to be invaded by the focal species than any other part of the province. Overall, the results of the study underscore the importance of species distribution modelling under a changing climate.