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Climatic Niche Shifts Are Rare Among Terrestrial Plant Invaders

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Science  16 Mar 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6074, pp. 1344-1348
DOI: 10.1126/science.1215933

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Abstract

The assumption that climatic niche requirements of invasive species are conserved between their native and invaded ranges is key to predicting the risk of invasion. However, this assumption has been challenged recently by evidence of niche shifts in some species. Here, we report the first large-scale test of niche conservatism for 50 terrestrial plant invaders between Eurasia, North America, and Australia. We show that when analog climates are compared between regions, fewer than 15% of species have more than 10% of their invaded distribution outside their native climatic niche. These findings reveal that substantial niche shifts are rare in terrestrial plant invaders, providing support for an appropriate use of ecological niche models for the prediction of both biological invasions and responses to climate change.

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