Most invasive species largely conserve their climatic niche
Liu, C.; Wolter, C.; Xian, W.; Jeschke, J.M. – 2020
The ecological niche is a key concept for elucidating patterns of species distributions and developing strategies for conserving biodiversity. However, recent times are seeing a widespread debate whether species niches are conserved across space and time (niche conservatism hypothesis). Biological invasions represent a unique opportunity to test this hypothesis in a short time frame at the global scale. We synthesized empirical findings for 434 invasive species from 86 studies to assess whether invasive species conserve their climatic niche between native and introduced ranges. Although the niche conservatism hypothesis was rejected in most studies, highly contrasting conclusions for the same species between and within studies suggest that the dichotomous conclusions of these studies were sensitive to techniques, assessment criteria, or author preferences. We performed a consistent quantitative analysis of the dynamics between native and introduced climatic niches reported by previous studies. Our results show there is very limited niche expansion between native and introduced ranges, and introduced niches occupy a position similar to native niches in the environmental space. These findings support the niche conservatism hypothesis overall. In particular, introduced niches were narrower for terrestrial animals, species introduced more recently, or species with more native occurrences. Niche similarity was lower for aquatic species, species introduced only intentionally or more recently, or species with fewer introduced occurrences. Climatic niche conservatism for invasive species not only increases our confidence in transferring ecological niche models to new ranges but also supports the use of niche models for forecasting species responses to changing climates.