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Keywords:

  • CO2;
  • Exotic species;
  • Global change;
  • Invasion;
  • Reynoutria japonica

Abstract. The relationship between present climate and the distribution in Europe of the aggressively invasive exotic Fallopia japonica is described by fitting a response surface based on three bioclimatic variables: mean temperature of the coldest month, the annual temperature sum > 5 °C, and the ratio of actual to potential evapotranspiration. The close fit between the observed and simulated distributions suggests that the species' European distribution is climatically determined. The response surface also provides a simulation of the extent of the area of native distribution of F. japonica in Southeast Asia that is generally accurate, confirming the robustness of the static correlative model upon which it is based. Simulations of the potential distribution of F. japonica under two alternative 2 x CO2 climate change scenarios indicate the likelihood of considerable spread into higher latitudes and possible eventual exclusion of the species from central Europe. However, despite the robustness of the response surface with present-day climate, the reliability of these simulations as forecasts is likely to be limited because no account is taken of the direct effects of CO2 and their interaction with the species' physiological responses to climate. Similarly, no account is taken of the potential impact of interactions with ‘new’ species as ecosystems change in composition in response to climate change. Nevertheless, the simulations indicate both the possible magnitude of the impacts of forecast climate changes and the regions that may be susceptible to invasion by F. japonica.