Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Niche shifts and environmental non-equilibrium undermine the usefulness of ecological niche models for invasion risk assessments.

Abstract

Niche shifts and environmental non-equilibrium in invading alien species undermine niche-based predictions of alien species' potential distributions and, consequently, their usefulness for invasion risk assessments. Here, we compared the realized climatic niches of four alien amphibian species (Hylarana erythraea, Rhinella marina, Hoplobatrachus rugulosus, and Kaloula pulchra) in their native and Philippine-invaded ranges to investigate niche changes that have unfolded during their invasion and, with this, assessed the extent of niche conservatism and environmental equilibrium. We investigated how niche changes affected reciprocal transferability of ecological niche models (ENMs) calibrated using data from the species' native and Philippine-invaded ranges, and both ranges combined. We found varying levels of niche change across the species' realized climatic niches in the Philippines: climatic niche shift for H. rugulosus; niche conservatism for R. marina and K. pulchra; environmental non-equilibrium in the Philippine-invaded range for all species; and environmental non-equilibrium in the native range or adaptive changes post-introduction for all species except H. erythraea. Niche changes undermined the reciprocal transferability of ENMs calibrated using native and Philippine-invaded range data. Our paper highlights the difficulty of predicting potential distributions given niche shifts and environmental non-equilibrium; we suggest calibrating ENMs with data from species' combined native and invaded ranges, and to regularly reassess niche changes and recalibrate ENMs as species' invasions progress.