Potential invasion range of raccoon in Iran under climate change

Sam Khosravifard*, Andrew K. Skidmore, Albertus G. Toxopeus, Aidin Niamir

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Growing global evidence demonstrates that not only the invasion of alien species has imposed serious threats to native biodiversity, but it also threatens health and economics. The raccoon (Procyon lotor), medium-sized mammal, native to North America, as a result of escapes or deliberate introductions in the mid-twentieth century, is now distributed across much of mainland Europe and the Caucasus and known as an alien invasive species. The raccoon was observed and reported for the first time in 1991 in the Caspian Hyrcanian mixed forests ecoregion in Iran, near the border of Azerbaijan. Although it has been almost three decades since the first report in the northwest of the country, there are not many official reports nor scientific research on its dispersal and adaptive behaviour. In this study, we provide new evidence on the current distribution range and predict the potential distribution range and thus invasion risk of the raccoon under climate change in Iran. We trained an ensemble of species distribution models trained in native and European invaded range and transferred it over space and time to Iran in 6 future climate scenarios. We also calculated the potential dispersal range of the raccoon per year and explored potential invasion corridors. Our results show that the raccoon inclined to expand in the forests and rangelands near the Caspian Sea and toward west Iran. Our work provides evidence to conservationists and decision-makers to further focus on the areas where the species will most likely expand, under the future scenarios of the climate change in 2050.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number100
    Pages (from-to)1-11
    Number of pages11
    JournalEuropean Journal of Wildlife Research
    Volume66
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

    Keywords

    • Alien invasive species
    • Climate change scenarios
    • Procyon lotor
    • Species distributionmodel
    • Species dispersal

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