Invasive alien plant species dynamics in the Himalayan region under climate change

Abstract

Climate change will impact the dynamics of invasive alien plant species (IAPS). However, the ability of IAPS under changing climate to invade mountain ecosystems, particularly the Himalayan region, is less known. This study investigates the current and future habitat of five IAPS of the Himalayan region using MaxEnt and two representative concentration pathways (RCPs). Two invasive species, Ageratum conyzoides and Parthenium hysterophorus, will lose overall suitable area by 2070, while Ageratina adenophora, Chromolaena odorata and Lantana camara will gain suitable areas and all of them will retain most of the current habitat as stable. The southern Himalayan foothills will mostly conserve species ecological niches, while suitability of all the five species will decrease with increasing elevation. Such invasion dynamics in the Himalayan region could have impacts on numerous ecosystems and their biota, ecosystem services and human well-being. Trans-boundary response strategies suitable to the local context of the region could buffer some of the likely invasion impacts.

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Acknowledgement

We would like to thank the National Herbarium and Plant Laboratories (KATH), Godavari, Nepal for providing an opportunity to study and record spatial distribution datasets of selected invasive species through their archived herbarium sheets. We also appreciate Dr. Bharat Babu Shrestha, Dr. Chudamani Joshi and Mr. Rajesh Malla for making available some distribution dataset of selected invasive species. We are equally grateful to two anonymous reviewers for providing insightful comments on the earlier versions of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Pramod Lamsal.

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Lamsal, P., Kumar, L., Aryal, A. et al. Invasive alien plant species dynamics in the Himalayan region under climate change. Ambio 47, 697–710 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-018-1017-z

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Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Himalayas
  • Invasive species
  • MaxEnt
  • Niche modelling