Global distribution patterns and niche modelling of the invasive Kalanchoe × houghtonii (Crassulaceae).
Invasive alien species are currently considered one of the main threats to global biodiversity. One of the most rapidly expanding invasive plants in recent times is Kalanchoe × houghtonii (Crassulaceae), an artificial hybrid created in the 1930s in the United States by experimental crossings between K. daigremontiana and K. tubiflora, two species endemic to Madagascar. Thanks to its large colonizing capacity (mainly derived from the production of asexual plantlets), K. × houghtonii soon escaped from cultivation and quickly spread in many parts of the world. However, its actual range is not well known due to the lack of a formal description until recent times (2006) and its strong morphological resemblance with one of its parentals (K. daigremontiana). The present study was aimed, in the first instance, to delimit the present distribution area of K. × houghtonii at the global scale by gathering and validating all its occurrences and to track its colonization history. Currently, K. × houghtonii can be found on all continents except Antarctica, although it did not reach a global distribution until the 2000s. Its potential distribution, estimated with MaxEnt modelling software, is mainly centered in subtropical regions, from 20° to 40° of both northern and southern latitudes, mostly in areas with a high anthropogenic activity. Unexpectedly, concomitant to a poleward migration, future niche models suggest a considerable reduction of its range by up to one-third compared to the present, which might be related with the Crassulaceaean Acid Metabolism (CAM) of K. × houghtonii. Further research may shed light as to whether a decrease in potential habitats constitutes a general pattern for Crassulaceae and CAM plants.