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What is the potential of spread in invasive bryophytes?

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Although the number of invasive bryophytes is much lower than that of higher plants, they threaten habitats that are often species rich and of high conservation relevance. Their potential of spread has, however, never been determined. Here, we assess whether the three most invasive bryophyte species shifted their niche during the invasion process and whether the extent of the study area defined to calibrate the model (geographic background, GB) affects model transferability. We then determine whether ecological niche models (ENMs) developed in their native range can be projected in other areas to assess their invasive potential. The macroclimatic niches of Campylopus introflexus, Orthodontium lineare and Lophocolea semiteres were compared in their native range (Southern Hemisphere) and in their invasion range (Northern Hemisphere) using ordination techniques. ENMs from an ensemble model were calibrated in the native range and projected onto the Northern Hemisphere using different GBs. No evidence for niche expansion in the invaded range was found and the species occur in the invaded range under climate conditions that are similar to those in the native range. The performance of the models to predict occurrences in the invaded range increased with the extent of the GB. The potential range of all species included entire regions on continents where they are still absent. The expansion of the investigated species appears to be constrained by climate conditions that are similar to those currently prevailing in their native range, which is consistent with our failure to demonstrate macroclimatic niche shift in the invaded range. The use of large GBs is recommended in such vagile organisms with large, disjunct distributions. The models indicated that invasive bryophyte species might become a threat in central and eastern Europe, North America and eastern Asia if accidentally introduced or naturally dispersed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2015

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