Predicting current and future global distribution of invasive Ligustrum lucidum (W.T. Aiton): assessing emerging risks to biodiversity hotspots

Lia Montti, Santiago José Elías Velazco, Justin Travis* (Corresponding Author), Chilo Grau

*Corresponding author for this work

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Biological invasions represent one of the main anthropogenic drivers of global change with a substantial impact on biodiversity. This impact can be particularly acute in biodiversity hotspots. Ligustrum lucidum W.T. Aiton is a tree species native of China that, from as early as the eighteenth century, has been introduced broadly around the globe, becoming a serious invasive species. We aim to predict L. lucidum's current and future potential distributions at a global scale and assess the degree to which biodiversity hotspots are at risk of invasion.

All continents.

Using global presence data, climatic and edaphic variables, we developed an ensemble model to predict current and future periods (2050 and 2080) global distribution of L. lucidum. Susceptible countries and hotspots of biodiversity were identified.

Important regions within China and neighbouring countries are likely to be environmentally suitable, but they are not currently occupied. Biodiversity hotspots in South America are highlighted as being at current risk of invasion. Notably, climate change may increase risks across large extents of biodiversity hotspots, mainly in South America and Africa, especially by 2080 period.

Main conclusions
Current and future potential distribution of L. lucidum overlaps with biodiversity hotspots worldwide. Control of L. lucidum is a challenge once established. Thus, species distribution modelling helps to identify risk areas, guiding their early detection in current or future suitable areas. Our findings can be useful as a guide to develop region-specific invasion management strategies to prevent and/or control this species' spread.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1568-1583
Number of pages16
JournalDiversity and Distributions
Issue number8
Early online date3 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

We thank the Argentine National Council of Scientific and Technological Research (CONICET) and Rufford Small Grand (8204-2) for supporting the fieldwork and Project CONTAIN funded under the Latin American Biodiversity Programme, as part of the Newton Fund (NE/S011641/1) that constructed an international network among authors. S.J.E.V. thanks the postdoctoral fellowships supported by the National Science Foundation (Award 1853697) and the CONICET received during the time of this project. We are grateful to M. Ayup, PAPD of Jiangsu higher education, Nanjing Forestry University (China), and particularly to Professor Ruan Honghua, Zou Xiaoming and Qi Weilong to help with data collection and useful information. To P. Garcia-Diaz to improve the first version of this work. Particularly, we thank to three anonymous Reviewers and the Editor of DDI Dr Zhang, for their very useful suggestions and detailed revision.


  • biodiversity threat
  • biological invasion
  • ecological forecast
  • ensemble model
  • glossy privet
  • species distribution model
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • ensemble models
  • species distribution models


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