Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

An update on the distribution of the coypu, Myocastor coypus, in Asia and Africa through published literature, citizen-science and online platforms.

Abstract

The coypu, Myocastor coypus, has been introduced worldwide for fur farming and is widely recognized as one of the most invasive alien mammals of the world, affecting natural ecosystems, crops and possibly human health. Here we present a comprehensive up-to-date review of its distribution and status in Asia and Africa. Using a multi-source approach, we collected occurrences from published literature as well as from online biodiversity platforms (e.g. GBIF, iNaturalist), video sharing platforms, and local experts. Additionally, we used an ensemble modelling approach to predict the climatic suitability across Africa and Asia. We present an updated distribution map, including a total of 1506 spatially explicit records from 1973 to 2021, covering 1 African and 16 Asian countries. We find evidence for current populations in Kenya and five new countries since the last review of (Carter and Leonard, Wildl Soc Bull 30:162-175, 2002): Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam, and identify main clusters of coypu occurrence in Western (including Transcaucasia) and East Asia. We show that warm temperate and Mediterranean areas on both continents are predicted to be climatically suitable for the coypu and highlight not only areas of possible spread, but also potential data gaps, i.e. with high suitability and low availability of concrete information (e.g. China, Southern Russia). We emphasize the importance of citizen involvement and the urgency for coypu-targeted studies in data-poor regions to obtain a clear picture of the geographical distribution and to better address management strategies.