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Knowing the past to predict the future: land-use change and the distribution of invasive bullfrogs

Authors

  • GENTILE FRANCESCO FICETOLA,

    1. Dipartimento di Scienze dell'Ambiente e del Territorio, Università di Milano-Bicocca. Piazza della Scienza 1, 20126 Milano
    2. Laboratoire d'Ecologie Alpine, UMR CNRS 5553, Université de Savoie, 73376 Le Bourget du Lac cedex, France
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  • LUIGI MAIORANO,

    1. Dipartimento di Biologia Animale e dell'Uomo, Sapienza Università di Roma, viale dell'Università 32, 00185 Roma, Italy
    2. Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, Biophore Building, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
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  • ALESSANDRA FALCUCCI,

    1. Dipartimento di Biologia Animale e dell'Uomo, Sapienza Università di Roma, viale dell'Università 32, 00185 Roma, Italy
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  • NICOLAS DENDONCKER,

    1. Centre for the Study of Environmental Change and Sustainability, University of Edinburgh, Drummond Street, EH89XP Edinburgh, UK
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  • LUIGI BOITANI,

    1. Dipartimento di Biologia Animale e dell'Uomo, Sapienza Università di Roma, viale dell'Università 32, 00185 Roma, Italy
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  • EMILIO PADOA-SCHIOPPA,

    1. Dipartimento di Scienze dell'Ambiente e del Territorio, Università di Milano-Bicocca. Piazza della Scienza 1, 20126 Milano
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  • CLAUDE MIAUD,

    1. Laboratoire d'Ecologie Alpine, UMR CNRS 5553, Université de Savoie, 73376 Le Bourget du Lac cedex, France
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  • WILFRIED THUILLER

    1. Laboratoire d'Ecologie Alpine, UMR CNRS 5553, Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble Cedex 9, France
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Gentile Francesco Ficetola, Dipartimento di Scienze dell'Ambiente e del Territorio, Università di Milano-Bicocca. Piazza della Scienza 1, 20126 Milano, Italy, tel. +39 (0)2 64 48 29 45, fax +39 (0)2 64 48 29 96, e-mail: francesco.ficetola@unimi.it

Abstract

Biological invasions and land-use changes are two major causes of the global modifications of biodiversity. Habitat suitability models are the tools of choice to predict potential distributions of invasive species. Although land-use is a key driver of alien species invasions, it is often assumed that land-use is constant in time. Here we combine historical and present day information, to evaluate whether land-use changes could explain the dynamic of invasion of the American bullfrog Rana catesbeiana (=Lithobathes catesbeianus) in Northern Italy, from the 1950s to present-day. We used maxent to build habitat suitability models, on the basis of past (1960s, 1980s) and present-day data on land-uses and species distribution. For example, we used models built using the 1960s data to predict distribution in the 1980s, and so on. Furthermore, we used land-use scenarios to project suitability in the future. Habitat suitability models predicted well the spread of bullfrogs in the subsequent temporal step. Models considering land-use changes predicted invasion dynamics better than models assuming constant land-use over the last 50 years. Scenarios of future land-use suggest that suitability will remain similar in the next years. Habitat suitability models can help to understand and predict the dynamics of invasions; however, land-use is not constant in time: land-use modifications can strongly affect invasions; furthermore, both land management and the suitability of a given land-use class may vary in time. An integration of land-use changes in studies of biological invasions can help to improve management strategies.

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