Exploring intraspecific climatic niche conservatism to better understand species invasion: the case of Trachemys dorbigni (Testudines, Emydidae)
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Niche conservatism at distinct levels of biological hierarchy is still a highly debated topic in ecology. The general evaluation of niche shifts is mainly addressed to species level, with few explorations at lower or higher hierarchical levels. The freshwater turtle Trachemys dorbigni (Black-Bellied Slider) has recently been divided into two subspecies that occur in very different climatic conditions and is also considered to be an invasive species in parts of eastern and southeastern regions in Brazil. Here, we aimed to explore the effects of evaluating climatic niche conservatism at subspecific levels during the invasive process of T. dorbigni. We evaluated niche conservatism based on similarity (whether niches are more similar than expected by chance) and also measured expansion, stability, and unfilling in the invaded niche. We found that the climatic niches of the T. dorbigni recognized subspecies are very different, but when they are merged, the environmental condition created is more similar to the invasive niche of the subspecies T. dorbigni dorbigni. We also found consistent evidence of niche conservatism in invaded areas, which enables the effective use of ecological niche models to forecast T. dorbigni dorbigni invasion in other geographic regions.
KeywordsBiological invasion Emydidae Freshwater turtles Niche shift Subspecies
We thank Leandro Alcalde, Jorge D. Williams, and Sergio D. Rosset for providing occurrence records of Trachemys dorbigni dorbigni. We also thank the Coleção de Répteis do Museu de Zoologia da UNICAMP (ZUEC-REP) and the Coleção de Répteis do Museu de Ciências e Tecnologia da Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul (MCT-PUCRS) for kindly providing occurrence localities of Trachemys dorbigni adiutrix (one occurrence record in ZUEC-REP) and Trachemys dorbigni dorbigni (nine occurrence records in MCT-PUCRS) online in the SpeciesLink website. We also thank four anonymous reviewers that provided interesting suggestions to the submitted version of the paper. JFMR acknowledges Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) for a PhD fellowship; MTPC acknowledges Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) for a Master fellowship, and JAFD-F has been supported by productivity grant from CNPq.
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Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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