Predicting current and future global distribution of invasive Ligustrum lucidum W.T. Aiton: assessing emerging risks to biodiversity hotspots.
Aim: Biological invasions represent one of the main anthropogenic drivers of global change with a substantial impact on biodiversity. This impact can be particularly acute in biodiversity hotspots. Ligustrum lucidum W.T. Aiton is a tree species native of China that, from as early as the eighteenth century, has been introduced broadly around the globe, becoming a serious invasive species. We aim to predict L. lucidum's current and future potential distributions at a global scale and assess the degree to which biodiversity hotspots are at risk of invasion. Location: All continents. Methods: Using global presence data, climatic and edaphic variables, we developed an ensemble model to predict current and future periods (2050 and 2080) global distribution of L. lucidum. Susceptible countries and hotspots of biodiversity were identified. Results: Important regions within China and neighbouring countries are likely to be environmentally suitable, but they are not currently occupied. Biodiversity hotspots in South America are highlighted as being at current risk of invasion. Notably, climate change may increase risks across large extents of biodiversity hotspots, mainly in South America and Africa, especially by 2080 period. Main conclusions: Current and future potential distribution of L. lucidum overlaps with biodiversity hotspots worldwide. Control of L. lucidum is a challenge once established. Thus, species distribution modelling helps to identify risk areas, guiding their early detection in current or future suitable areas. Our findings can be useful as a guide to develop region-specific invasion management strategies to prevent and/or control this species' spread.