Mechanistic species distribution modeling reveals a niche shift during invasion



Chapman DS, Scalone R, Štefanić E & Bullock JM (2017) Mechanistic species distribution modeling reveals a niche shift during invasion. Ecology, 98 (6), pp. 1671-1680.

Niche shifts of nonnative plants can occur when they colonize novel climatic conditions. However, the mechanistic basis for niche shifts during invasion is poorly understood and has rarely been captured within species distribution models. We quantified the consequence of between-population variation in phenology for invasion of common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia L.) across Europe. Ragweed is of serious concern because of its harmful effects as a crop weed and because of its impact on public health as a major aeroallergen. We developed a forward mechanistic species distribution model based on responses of ragweed development rates to temperature and photoperiod. The model was parameterized and validated from the literature and by reanalyzing data from a reciprocal common garden experiment in which native and invasive populations were grown within and beyond the current invaded range. It could therefore accommodate between-population variation in the physiological requirements for flowering, and predict the potentially invaded ranges of individual populations. Northern-origin populations that were established outside the generally accepted climate envelope of the species had lower thermal requirements for bud development, suggesting local adaptation of phenology had occurred during the invasion. The model predicts that this will extend the potentially invaded range northward and increase the average suitability across Europe by 90% in the current climate and 20% in the future climate. Therefore, trait variation observed at the population scale can trigger a climatic niche shift at the biogeographic scale. For ragweed, earlier flowering phenology in established northern populations could allow the species to spread beyond its current invasive range, substantially increasing its risk to agriculture and public health. Mechanistic species distribution models offer the possibility to represent niche shifts by varying the traits and niche responses of individual populations. Ignoring such effects could substantially underestimate the extent and impact of invasions.

biological invasion; climate change; common ragweed; ecological niche model; niche conservatism; process-based model; rapid evolution

Ecology: Volume 98, Issue 6

FundersEuropean Commission
Publication date30/06/2017
Publication date online02/04/2017
Date accepted by journal13/03/2017
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons, Ltd

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Dr Daniel Chapman
Dr Daniel Chapman

Senior Lecturer, Biological and Environmental Sciences