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Ecological Niche Model used to examine the distribution of an invasive, non-indigenous coral
Carlos-Júnior, L.A.; Barbosa, N.P.U.; Moulton, T.P.; Creed, J.C. (2015). Ecological Niche Model used to examine the distribution of an invasive, non-indigenous coral. Mar. Environ. Res. 103: 115-124.
In: Marine Environmental Research. Applied Science Publishers: Barking. ISSN 0141-1136, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Benthic ecology; Distribution dynamics; Ecological Niche Models; Equatorial and southern Atlantic; Invasive species; Tubastraea coccinea

Authors  Top 
  • Carlos-Júnior, L.A.
  • Barbosa, N.P.U.
  • Moulton, T.P.
  • Creed, J.C.

    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.

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