, Volume 13, Issue 5, pp 1209-1227
Date: 12 Feb 2011

Where will conflicts between alien and rare species occur after climate and land-use change? A test with a novel combined modelling approach

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Abstract

Protecting native biodiversity against alien invasive species requires powerful methods to anticipate these invasions and to protect native species assumed to be at risk. Here, we describe how species distribution models (SDMs) can be used to identify areas predicted as both suitable for rare native species and highly susceptible to invasion by alien species, at present and under future climate and land-use scenarios. To assess the condition and dynamics of such conflicts, we developed a combined predictive modelling (CPM) approach, which predicts species distributions by combining two SDMs fitted using subsets of predictors classified as acting at either regional or local scales. We illustrate the CPM approach for an alien invader and a rare species associated with similar habitats in northwest Portugal. Combined models predict a wider variety of potential species responses, providing more informative projections of species distributions and future dynamics than traditional, non-combined models. They also provide more informative insight regarding current and future rare-invasive conflict areas. For our studied species, conflict areas of highest conservation relevance are predicted to decrease over the next decade, supporting previous reports that some invasive species may contract their geographic range and impact due to climate change. More generally, our results highlight the more informative character of the combined approach to address practical issues in conservation and management programs, especially those aimed at mitigating the impact of invasive plants, land-use and climate changes in sensitive regions.