The use of insect life tables in optimizing invasive pest distributional models.
Accurately predicting the distribution of emerging invasive species is crucial for early detection and eradication. While ecological niche models are often used to forecast invasions, such models are limited when invasive populations of a species have realized niches that differ from native populations, or when invasive populations are not at equilibrium. One technique to potentially overcome these challenges is to incorporate physiological responses of invaders to abiotic factors into ecological niche models, although few studies have assessed whether such approaches are effective. We addressed this by determining whether incorporating physiological data from life table analyses of an invasive insect, Drosophila suzukii, improved predictions of ecological niche models. Specifically, we tested whether models incorporating development time and survival rate from insect life tables improved predictions compared to a classical model without physiological data. We show that incorporating physiological responses of D. suzukii to temperature into our ecological niche models increased transferability of predictions from the native to the invasive range, while also reducing uncertainty of predictions. Moreover, physiological combined models performed best when equilibrium assumptions were violated. Our study suggests ecological niche models that incorporate data on physiological responses of invaders to abiotic factors provides a means to develop more effective and timely invasive pest distributional models.