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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Carlos-Junior L.A.,State University of Rio de Janeiro | Carlos-Junior L.A.,Coral Sol Research | Barbosa N.P.U.,Federal University of Minas Gerais | Moulton T.P.,State University of Rio de Janeiro | And 3 more authors.
Marine Environmental Research | Year: 2015

All organisms have a set of ecological conditions (or niche) which they depend on to survive and establish in a given habitat. The ecological niche of a species limits its geographical distribution. In the particular case of non-indigenous species (NIS), the ecological requirements of the species impose boundaries on the potential distribution of the organism in the new receptor regions. This is a theoretical assumption implicit when Ecological Niche Models (ENMs) are used to assess the potential distribution of NIS. This assumption has been questioned, given that in some cases niche shift may occur during the process of invasion. We used ENMs to investigate whether the model fit with data from the native range of the coral Tubastraea coccinea Lesson, 1829 successfully predicts its invasion in the Atlantic. We also identified which factors best explain the distribution of this NIS. The broad native distributional range of T.coccinea predicted the invaded sites well, especially along the Brazilian coast, the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. The occurrence of T.coccinea was positively related to calcite levels and negatively to eutrophy, but was rather unaffected to other variables that often limit other marine organisms, suggesting that this NIS has wide ecological limits, a trait typical of invasive species. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Carlos-Junior L.A.,State University of Rio de Janeiro | Carlos-Junior L.A.,Coral Sol Research | Neves D.M.,Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh | Barbosa N.P.U.,Federal University of Minas Gerais | And 4 more authors.
Ecology and Evolution | Year: 2015

Tubastraea tagusensis, a coral native to the Galapagos Archipelago, has successfully established and invaded the Brazilian coast where it modifies native tropical rocky shore and coral reef communities. In order to understand the processes underlying the establishment of T. tagusensis, we tested whether Maxent, a tool for species distribution modeling, based on the native range of T. tagusensis correctly forecasted the invasion range of this species in Brazil. The Maxent algorithm was unable to predict the Brazilian coast as a suitable environment for the establishment of T. tagusensis. A comparison between these models and a principal component analysis (PCA) allowed us to examine the environmental dissimilarity between the two occupied regions (native and invaded) and to assess the species' occupied niche breadth. According to the PCA results, lower levels of chlorophyll-a and nitrate on the Atlantic coast segregate the Brazilian and Galapagos environments, implying that T. tagusensis may have expanded its realized niche during the invasion process. We tested the possible realized niche expansion in T. tagusensis by assuming that Tubastraea spp. have similar fundamental niches, which was supported by exploring the environmental space of T. coccinea, a tropical-cosmopolitan congener of T. tagusensis. We believe that the usage of Maxent should be treated with caution, especially when applied to biological invasion (or climate change) scenarios where the target species has a highly localized native (original) distribution, which may represent only a small portion of its fundamental niche, and therefore a violation of a SDM assumption. © 2015 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Source

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