Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Native range climate is insufficient to predict anuran invasive potential.

Abstract

Niche conservatism explains biological invasions worldwide. However, a plethora of ecological processes may lead invasive species to occupy environments that are different from those found within native ranges. Here, we assess the potential invadable areas of the world's most pervasive invasive amphibians: the cane toad, Rhinella marina + R. horribilis, and the North American bullfrog, Lithobates catesbeianus. The uncontrolled spread of such voracious, large-bodied, and disease-tolerant anurans has been documented to impact native faunas worldwide. To disentangle their invasion-related niche dynamics, we compared the predictive ability and distributional forecasts of ecological niche models calibrated with information from native, invaded and pooled (native + invaded) ranges. We found that including occurrences from invaded ranges improved model accuracy for both studied species. Non-native occurrences also accounted for 54% and 61% increase in the total area of potential distribution of the cane toad and bullfrog, respectively. Besides, the latter species occupied locations with climatic conditions that are more extreme than those found within its native range. Our results indicate that the occupancy of environments different from those found in native ranges increases the overall potential distribution of the studied invasive anuran species. Therefore, climate information on native ranges alone is insufficient to explain and anticipate the distributional patterns of invasion of cane toads and bullfrogs, underestimating predictions of potential invadable distribution. Moreover, such an observed expansion of realized niches towards occupancy of climates not found within native ranges also has clear implications for invasion risk assessments based on climate modelling worldwide.