Climate controls the distribution of a widespread invasive species: implications for future range expansion
- Two dominant drivers of species distributions are climate and habitat, both of which are changing rapidly. Understanding the relative importance of variables that can control distributions is critical, especially for invasive species that may spread rapidly and have strong effects on ecosystems.
- Here, we examine the relative importance of climate and habitat variables in controlling the distribution of the widespread invasive freshwater clam Corbicula fluminea, and we model its future distribution under a suite of climate scenarios using logistic regression and maximum entropy modelling (MaxEnt).
- Logistic regression identified climate variables as more important than habitat variables in controlling Corbicula distribution. MaxEnt modelling predicted Corbicula's range expansion westward and northward to occupy half of the contiguous United States. By 2080, Corbicula's potential range will expand 25–32%, with more than half of the continental United States being climatically suitable.
- Our combination of multiple approaches has revealed the importance of climate over habitat in controlling Corbicula's distribution and validates the climate-only MaxEnt model, which can readily examine the consequences of future climate projections.
- Given the strong influence of climate variables on Corbicula's distribution, as well as Corbicula's ability to disperse quickly and over long distances, Corbicula is poised to expand into New England and the northern Midwest of the United States. Thus, the direct effects of climate change will probably be compounded by the addition of Corbicula and its own influences on ecosystem function.