Predicting the invasion of a southern African savannah by the black wattle (Acacia mearnsii).
Understanding the drivers of biological invasions in landscapes is a major goal in invasion ecology. The control of biological invasions has increasingly become critical in the past few decades because invasive species are thought to be a major threat to endemism. In this study, by examining the key variables that influence Acacia mearnsii, we sought to understand its potential invasion in eastern Zimbabwe. We used the maximum entropy (MaxEnt) method against a set of environmental variables to predict the potential invasion front of A. mearnsii. Our study showed that the predictor variables, i.e., aspect, elevation, distance from streams, soil type and distance from the nearest A. mearnsii plantation adequately explained (training AUC = 0.96 and test AUC = 0.93) variability in the spatial distribution of invading A. mearnsii. The front of invasion by A. mearnsii seemed also to occur next to existing A. mearnsii plantations. Results from our study could be useful in identifying priority areas that could be targeted for controlling the spread of A. mearnsii in Zimbabwe and other areas under threat from A. mearnsii invasion. We recommend that the plantation owners pay for the control of A. mearnsii invasion about their plantations.