Predicted impact of exotic vines on an endangered ecological community under future climate change
Gallagher RV; Hughes L; Leishman MR; Wilson PD
Potential interactions between climate change and exotic plant invasions may affect areas of high conservation value such as land set aside for the protection of endangered species or ecological communities. We investigated this issue in eastern Australia using species distribution models for five exotic vines under climate regimes for 2020 and 2050. We examined how projected changes in the distribution of climatically suitable habitat may coincide with the remaining remnants of an endangered ecological community—littoral rainforests—in this region. The number of known infestations of each weed in tropical subtropical and temperate areas was used to assess the likelihood of further expansion into areas projected to provide suitable habitat under future conditions. Littoral rainforest reserves were consistently predicted to provide bioclimatically suitable habitat for the five vines examined under both current and future climate scenarios. We explore the consequences and potential strategies for managing exotic plant invasions in these protected areas in the coming decades.