Double-edged effects of climate change on plant invasions: ecological niche modeling global distributions of two invasive alien plants.
The prediction of the potential distribution of invasive alien species is key for the control of their proliferation. This study developed ensemble niche models to explore the distribution patterns of Cecropia peltata and Ulex europaeus under baseline and future conditions, as well as the factors that regulate them. The models were based on occurrence records as well as climate, land-use and topography datasets. Climatic factors played a stronger role than land-use and topographical factors in their distribution patterns. Additionally, temperature seasonality and temperature annual range were the optimal predictor for the global distributions of C. peltata and U. europaeus, respectively. Under the baseline-RCP 8.5 scenario in 2070, significant increases in habitat suitability for C. peltata were generally detected in tropical regions, while for U. europaeus under the same condition, significant increases in habitat suitability were generally observed in west coast of South America and Europe, suggesting the impacts of climate changes on species distribution may be species specific. The contrast changes of suitable habitat areas for U. europaeus under the baseline-2.6 and 8.5 scenarios may suggest that the scenarios of climate changes may modify its distribution patterns and variations in suitable habitats. The double-edged effects of global warming on plant invasions may be a result of the scenario specific climate change and the species-specific responses to changes in climate. Our findings highlight the importance of climate change scenario specific and species-specific research on the impact of climate change on plant invasions.