Biological invasions in agroecosystems of continental Ecuador: ecological niche of alien species and low risk agricultural crops.
In Ecuador, invasive alien species (IAS) cause negative consequences in ecology, economy, and food security. Agroecosystems belong to one of the productive sectors worldwide but are vulnerable to biological invasions by constant human activity and the transfer of vegetation, soil, and seeds, so they must be constantly monitored because of their important role in the economy to be a source of employment. The objective of this research was to evaluate the potential influence of IAS on the agroecosystems of continental Ecuador through the modeling of the ecological niche. The maximum entropy algorithm was used as a modeling method, and the presence register in the native region and invaded areas at a global level of six plant species, three insect species and one mollusc species were used. Data were obtained from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility and Tropicos. As explanatory variables, 19 bioclimatic variables, and six vegetation variables were used. Maps of potential geographical distribution, the overlap areas of the 353distribution of the species, and the delimitation of the zones of greater risk were obtained. It was determined that the environmental conditions of the Sierra and the Amazonian regions are ideal for a possible invasion of most species. Moreover, more than 50% of the agricultural coverage of the country could be affected by Wasmannia rochai, Spondias purpurea L., Lissachatina fulica, and Conium maculatum L., with short cycle crops being the most vulnerable to invasion.