Climate change and biotic invasions: A case history of a tropical woody vine

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Biological Invasions


The impacts of climate change in the potential distribution and relative abundance of a C3 shrubby vine, Cryptostegia grandiflora, were investigated using the CLIMEX modelling package. Based upon its current naturalised distribution, C. grandiflora appears to occupy only a small fraction of its potential distribution in Australia under current climatic conditions; mostly in apparently sub-optimal habitat. The potential distribution of C. grandiflora is sensitive towards changes in climate and atmospheric chemistry in the expected range of this century, particularly those that result in increased temperature and water use efficiency. Climate change is likely to increase the potential distribution and abundance of the plant, further increasing the area at risk of invasion, and threatening the viability of current control strategies markedly. By identifying areas at risk of invasion, and vulnerabilities of control strategies, this analysis demonstrates the utility of climate models for providing information suitable to help formulate large-scale, long-term strategic plans for controlling biotic invasions. The effects of climate change upon the potential distribution of C. grandiflora are sufficiently great that strategic control plans for biotic invasions should routinely include their consideration. Whilst the effect of climate change upon the efficacy of introduced biological control agents remain unknown, their possible effect in the potential distribution of C. grandiflora will likely depend not only upon their effects on the population dynamics of C. grandiflora, but also on the gradient of climatic suitability adjacent to each segment of the range boundary.