Ecological niche models assume a species niche should be conserved over space and time. Increasingly, studies have determined that niche shifts may occur during biological invasion events. The aim of this study is to examine niche conservation for two invasive crane flies, Tipula oleracea Linnaeus and Tipula paludosa Meigen, after introductions into North America. These species have broadly sympatric invasive distributions but differ in time since introduction and dispersal abilities. As these factors may impact the area accessible to dispersal, I examined the impact of background area delineation on conclusions of niche conservation. Results indicated that alternative delineations of accessible area (i. e., background area) had no affect on measures of niche equivalence. Neither Tipula species was found to be occupying invasive niche space equivalent to that of their native ranges. Niche dissimilarity was found for both species, with results strongly impacted by the choice of background area. T. paludosa introductions displayed a niche shift across both invasive introductions when the model area drew climatic information from an area that buffered occurrences by 40 km. The eastern T. oleracea introduction displayed a niche shift when background information was drawn from within a 400 km buffered area. This study suggests that invasive populations may be displaying a niche shift when evaluated against one scale of background but conserved when evaluated against another scale. Dispersal limitations for T. oleracea in its eastern introduction and anthropogenic habitat associations for T. paludosa across both invasive introductions are indicated as causes for the observed niche shifts. The results of this study highlight the importance of carefully delineating the area accessible to invasive species in studies of niche conservation. Furthermore, it indicates that examining several spatial extents of background areas can be beneficial when examining niche conservation for species in non-equilibrium states.
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Acknowledgments Valuable information on the geographical distributions of both Tipula species across their invasive ranges was kindly made available by P. Charbonneau, D. Olmstead, S. Gaimari, and S. Rao. Pjtor Oosterbroek and the Zoological Museum Amsterdam provided data on the native ranges of both Tipula species. Comments to an earlier draft of this manuscript were contributed by D. Peck. I thank J. Petersen for support, valuable comments and critique of this research. This work was funded by the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Biology of Weedy and Invasive Species in Agroeco-systems grants program #2010-85320-20424.
- Ecological niche modeling
- Invasion biology
- Tipula oleracea
- Tipula paludosa