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Invasion risk of the currently cultivated alien flora in Southern Africa is predicted to decline under climate change
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  • Ali Omer,
  • Franz Essl,
  • Stefan Dullinger,
  • Bernd Lenzner,
  • Adrián García-Rodríguez,
  • Dietmar Moser,
  • Trevor Fristoe,
  • Wayne Dawson,
  • Patrick Weigelt,
  • Holger Kreft,
  • Jan Pergl,
  • Petr Pysek,
  • Mark van Kleunen,
  • Johannes Wessely
Ali Omer
University of Vienna

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Franz Essl
University of Vienna
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Stefan Dullinger
University of Vienna
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Bernd Lenzner
Universitat Wien Fakultat fur Lebenswissenschaften
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Adrián García-Rodríguez
University of Vienna
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Dietmar Moser
University of Vienna
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Trevor Fristoe
University of Konstanz
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Wayne Dawson
Durham University
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Patrick Weigelt
University of Goettingen
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Holger Kreft
Georg-August-Universitat Gottingen
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Jan Pergl
Institute of Botany Czech Academy of Sciences
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Petr Pysek
Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
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Mark van Kleunen
University of Konstanz
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Johannes Wessely
University of Vienna
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Abstract

Alien species can have massive impacts on native biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Assessing which species from currently cultivated alien floras may escape into the wild and naturalize is hence essential for ecosystem management and biodiversity conservation. Climate change has promoted the naturalization of many alien plants in temperate regions, but whether outcomes are similar in (sub)tropical areas is insufficiently known. In this study, we used species distribution models to evaluate the current naturalization risk of 1,527 cultivated alien plants in 10 countries of Southern Africa and how their invasion risk might change due to climate change. We assessed changes in climatic suitability across the different biomes of Southern Africa. Moreover, we assessed whether climatic suitability for cultivated alien plants varied with their naturalization status and native origin. The results of our study indicate that a significant proportion (53.9%) of the species are projected to lack suitable climatic conditions in Southern Africa, both currently and in the future. Based on the current climate conditions, 10.0% of Southern Africa is identified as an invasion hotspot (here defined as the top 10% of grid cells that provide suitable climatic conditions to the highest numbers of species). This percentage is expected to decrease slightly to 7.1% under moderate future climate change and shrink considerably to 2.0% under the worst-case scenario. This decline in climatic suitability is observed across most native origins, particularly under the worst-case climate change scenario. Our findings indicate that climate change is likely to have an opposing effect on the naturalization of currently cultivated average plants in (sub)tropical Southern Africa compared to colder regions. Specifically, the risk of these plants’ naturalizing is expected to decrease due to the region’s increasingly hot and dry climate, which will be challenging for the persistence of both native and alien plant species.
07 Jul 2023Submitted to Ecography
08 Jul 2023Submission Checks Completed
08 Jul 2023Assigned to Editor
08 Jul 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
04 Aug 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
19 Oct 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Major
17 Nov 20231st Revision Received
20 Nov 2023Assigned to Editor
20 Nov 2023Submission Checks Completed
20 Nov 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending