Impacts of climate change on the global invasion potential of the African clawed frog xenopus laevis

Ihlow, Flora ; Courant, Julien ; Secondi, Jean ; Herrel, Anthony ; Rebelo, Rui ; Measey, G. John ; Lillo, Francesco ; De Villiers, F. Andre ; Vogt, Solveig ; De Busschere, Charlotte ; Backeljau, Thierry ; Rodder, Dennis (2016-06-01)

CITATION: Ihlow, F., et al. 2016. Impacts of climate change on the global invasion potential of the African clawed frog xenopus laevis. PLoS ONE, 11(6):e0154869, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0154869.

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By altering or eliminating delicate ecological relationships, non-indigenous species are considered a major threat to biodiversity, as well as a driver of environmental change. Global climate change affects ecosystems and ecological communities, leading to changes in the phenology, geographic ranges, or population abundance of several species. Thus, predicting the impacts of global climate change on the current and future distribution of invasive species is an important subject in macroecological studies. The African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis), native to South Africa, possesses a strong invasion potential and populations have become established in numerous countries across four continents. The global invasion potential of X. laevis was assessed using correlative species distribution models (SDMs). SDMs were computed based on a comprehensive set of occurrence records covering South Africa, North America, South America and Europe and a set of nine environmental predictors. Models were built using both a maximum entropy model and an ensemble approach integrating eight algorithms. The future occurrence probabilities for X. laevis were subsequently computed using bioclimatic variables for 2070 following four different IPCC scenarios. Despite minor differences between the statistical approaches, both SDMs predict the future potential distribution of X. laevis, on a global scale, to decrease across all climate change scenarios. On a continental scale, both SDMs predict decreasing potential distributions in the species’ native range in South Africa, as well as in the invaded areas in North and South America, and in Australia where the species has not been introduced. In contrast, both SDMs predict the potential range size to expand in Europe. Our results suggest that all probability classes will be equally affected by climate change. New regional conditions may promote new invasions or the spread of established invasive populations, especially in France and Great Britain.

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