Bellard et. al. (2013) Will Climate Change Promote Future Invasions?

Bellard, C., Thuiller, W., Leroy, B., Genovesi, P., Bakkenes, M. and Courchamp, F. (2013), Will climate change promote future invasions?. Glob Change Biol, 19: 3740-3748.



Bellard and colleagues examined the effects of climate and land use change on the future distribution of 100 different invasive species from around the world. They used an ensemble of species distribution models with climate and land use data to map the suitability of each invasive species over the next 50-75 years. Their analysis included 14 biome types, 12 land cover types, 11 taxonomic groups, 6 climatic variables, 3 time frames, and 2 future climate scenarios. They found that future distribution of these invasive species largely varies based on climate change and land use change. Surprisingly, there was no global increase in species distributions based on land use and climate change; rather, they found distinct changes based on biome, taxa, and region. Their models predict that the number of invasive species will likely increase in the northern hemisphere and decrease in the southern hemisphere. The biome with the most predicted future invasions was temperate deciduous forests whereas biomes with extreme climatic conditions (e.g., ice, hot desert, and tundra) are predicted to have the least. Out of all the taxonomic groups studied, the ranges of aquatic invertebrates and aquatic plants were expected to expand while the ranges of amphibians and birds were expected to shrink. Europe, northwestern North America, South Australia, and New Zealand were identified as future hotspots of invasion -across  multiple time frames and climate scenarios. 


Take Home Points:

  • Changes in species distributions are taxa and biome specific when based on future land use and future climate change

  • An increase in invasive species will be seen in temperate regions and a decrease will be seen in extreme climatic zones

  • The distribution of invasive species is complex and each region will have a different story, there will not be a global increase in invasive species everywhere


Management Implications:

  • Decreased number of invasive species in the Southern Hemisphere creates a unique opportunity for ecological restoration in the future

  • Knowledge of climate and land use change and their combined effects on invasive species’ distribution creates management opportunities for preemptive measures

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