, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 1231-1241
Date: 04 Aug 2009

Invasive and flexible: niche shift in the drosophilid Zaprionus indianus (Insecta, Diptera)

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Abstract

Although predictions of potential distributions of invasive species often assume niche conservatism, recent analyses suggest that niche shifts can also occur. Thus, further studies are necessary to provide a better understanding of niche dynamics and to predict geographic distribution in invaded areas. The present study investigated the niche shift hypothesis at a broad biogeographical scale, using the comprehensive distribution of the invasive species Zaprionus indianus in its native (Africa) and invaded (America and India) ranges. Z. indianus is a very successful invasive species that presents high adaptive flexibility and extreme physiological tolerance. To investigate whether Z. indianus changed its climatic niche from Africa to America and India, multivariate analyses, as well as ecological niche modeling procedures (GARP, MAXENT and Mahalanobis distances), were used. Multivariate analyses showed that the niche spaces of Z. indianus in Africa, India and the Americas were significantly different (Wilks’ λ from a Multivariate Analysis of Variance, MANOVA = 0.115; P < 0.0001). Out of 108 occurrences in America, only 11 (ca 10%) were classified, by Canonical Variate Analysis scores, as belonging to its original range in Africa, whereas only 5% of the 39 occurrences in India were classified as belonging to Z. indianus’ original range. Consensus results from MAXENT, GARP and Mahalanobis distances correctly predicted only 27% of the occurrences in India and 85% of occurrences in America. Thus, all analyses showed that Zaprionus indianus quickly expanded ranges into different environments in the invaded areas, suggesting climatic niche shifts, primarily in India.