Impacts of climate change on current and future invasion of Prosopis juliflora in Ethiopia: environmental and socio-economic implications.
Prosopis juliflora is a serious invader, causing great ecological and economic damage in Ethiopia. Thus, it is imperative to examine potential invasion dynamics of P. juliflora at national level under climate change scenario to better influence decision making processes on the management of this invasive species. We derived a consensus model from five modeling approaches to examine the current and future (2050 and 2070) climatic suitability for P. juliflora under two climate scenarios (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5) in Ethiopia. Under the current climatic scenario, 94.8% of the country was non-suitable for P. juliflora establishment and invasion while 0.4% (4.56 million ha) was highly suitable. In 2050, highly suitable area for P. juliflora is expected to increase by 55.6% and 63.6%, while moderately suitable area is projected to increase by 33.3% and 42.9% under RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 climate scenarios, respectively. Compared to the current climatic condition, in 2070, highly suitable area for the species is projected to increase by 73.3% (3.43 million ha) and 80.0% (3.65 million ha) under RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 scenario, respectively. With the current cover, this invasive species had already caused significant impact on rangelands in many parts of the country. Its further expansion would worsen the problem, leading to great environmental and economic damage, thereby threatening the livelihood of the community. Negative environmental and economical impacts caused by the species will be high if preventive and effective management measures are not earnestly taken, and it becomes one of the major challenges for the 21st century pastoralism and their livelihoods. We recommend a national effort be organized towards combating P. juliflora expansion to new areas, especially in regions and protected area predicted as frontiers of potential expansion.