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Potential Risks of Plant Invasions in Protected Areas of Sri Lanka under Climate Change with Special Reference to Threatened Vertebrates

1
Ecosystem Management, School of Environmental and Rural Science, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia
2
Ministry of Environment and Wildlife Resources, Battaramulla 10120, Sri Lanka
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Climate 2020, 8(4), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/cli8040051
Received: 25 February 2020 / Revised: 30 March 2020 / Accepted: 30 March 2020 / Published: 1 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity at Regional or Larger Scales)
There is substantial global concern over the potential impacts of plant invasions on native biodiversity in protected areas (PAs). Protected areas in tropical island countries that host rich biodiversity face an imminent risk from the potential spread of invasive alien plant species. Thus, the aim of this study was to gain a general understanding of the potential risks of multiple plant invasions in PAs located in the tropical island of Sri Lanka under projected climate change. We conducted a further analysis of a multi-species climate suitability assessment, based on a previous study using the Maximum Entropy (MaxEnt) modeling approach, and tested how species invasion may change in protected areas under climate change. We evaluated how the climate suitability of 14 nationally recognized invasive alien plant species (IAPS) will vary within PAs and outside PAs by 2050 under two climate change scenarios, representative concentration pathways (RCP) 4.5 and 8.5. Our findings suggest that there will be increased risks from multiple IAPS inside PAs and outside PAs in Sri Lanka in the future; however, the potential risk is comparatively less in PAs. We provide an overview of the species richness of selected threatened vertebrate groups, which can be potentially impacted by IAPS in PAs. The findings of this study highlight important implications for the strategic management of plant invasions in PAs in order to safeguard native biodiversity, with special reference to vertebrates. View Full-Text
Keywords: climate suitability; invasive alien plant species; MaxEnt; native biodiversity; tropical island countries climate suitability; invasive alien plant species; MaxEnt; native biodiversity; tropical island countries
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Kariyawasam, C.S.; Kumar, L.; Ratnayake, S.S. Potential Risks of Plant Invasions in Protected Areas of Sri Lanka under Climate Change with Special Reference to Threatened Vertebrates. Climate 2020, 8, 51.

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