Ageratina Adenophora and Lantana camara in Kailash Sacred Landscape, India: current distribution and future climatic scenarios through modeling.
The Himalayan region is one of the global biodiversity hotspots. However, its biodiversity and ecosystems are threatened due to abiotic and biotic drivers. One of the major biotic threats to biodiversity in this region is the rapid spread of Invasive Alien Species (IAS). Natural forests and grasslands are increasingly getting infested by IAS affecting regeneration of native species and decline in availability of bio-resources. Assessing the current status of IAS and prediction of their future spread would be vital for evolving specific species management interventions. Keeping this in view, we conducted an in-depth study on two IASs, viz., Ageratina adenophora and Lantana camara in the Indian part of Kailash Sacred Landscape (KSL), Western Himalaya. Intensive field surveys were conducted to collect the presence of A. adenophora (n = 567) and L. camara (n = 120) along an altitudinal gradient between 300 and 3000 m a.s.l. We performed Principal Component Analysis to nullify the multi-colinearity effects of the environmental predictors following MaxEnt species distribution model in the current and future climatic scenarios for both the species. All current and future model precision (i.e., Area Under the Curve; AUC) for both species was higher than 0.81. It is predicted that under the current rate of climate change and higher emission (i.e., RCP 8.5 pathway), A. adenophora will spread 45.3% more than its current distribution and is likely to reach up to 3029 m a.s.l., whereas, L. camara will spread 29.8% more than its current distribution range and likely to reach up to 3018 m a.s.l. Our results will help in future conservation planning and participatory management of forests and grasslands in the Kailash Sacred Landscape-India.