Aim To investigate whether the frequently advocated climate-matching species distribution modelling approach could predict the well-characterized colonization of Florida by the Madagascar giant day gecko Phelsuma grandis.
Location Madagascar and Florida, USA.
Methods To determine the climatic conditions associated with the native range of P. grandis, we used native-range presence-only records and Bioclim climatic data to build a Maxent species distribution model and projected the climatic thresholds of the native range onto Florida. We then built an analogous model using Florida presence-only data and projected it onto Madagascar. We constructed a third model using native-range presences for both P. grandis and the closely related parapatric species P. kochi.
Results Despite performing well within the native range, our Madagascar Bioclim model failed to identify suitable climatic habitat currently occupied by P. grandis in Florida. The model constructed using Florida presences also failed to reflect the distribution in Madagascar by over-predicting distribution, especially in western areas occupied by P. kochi. The model built using the combined P. kochi/P. grandis dataset modestly improved the prediction of the range of P. grandis in Florida, thereby implying competitive exclusion of P. grandis by P. kochi from habitat within the former’s fundamental niche. These findings thus suggest ecological release of P. grandis in Florida. However, because ecological release cannot fully explain the divergent occupied niches of P. grandis in Madagascar versus Florida, our findings also demonstrate some degree of in situ adaptation in Florida.
Main conclusions Our models suggest that the discrepancy between the predicted and observed range of P. grandis in Florida is attributable to either in situ adaptation by P. grandis within Florida, or a combination of such in situ adaptation and competition with P. kochi in Madagascar. Our study demonstrates that climate-matching species distribution models can severely underpredict the establishment risk posed by non-native herpetofauna.
This datafile contains i) the datafiles used in this study, ii) the R script used to generate, project, and analyze the models presented in this paper, and iii) the output files associated with the models. It should be sufficient to recreate the model outputs as presented in the manuscript.
All necessary data and files supplied.
Florida International University, Award: FIU Tropics
Florida International University, Award: Institute of Environment
Susan S. Levine Trust
American Museum of Natural History
Susan S. Levine Trust