Niche shift in four non-native estrildid finches
Non-native species can have severe impacts on ecosystems. Therefore, predictions of potentially suitable areas that are at risk of the establishment of non-native populations are desirable. In recent years, species distribution models (SDMs) have been widely applied for this purpose. However, the appropriate selection of species records, whether from the native area alone or also from the introduced range, is still a matter of debate. We combined analyses of native and non-native realized climate niches to understand differences between models based on all locations, as well as on locations from the native range only. Our approach was applied to four estrildid finch species that have been introduced to many regions around the world. Our results showed that SDMs based on location data from native areas alone may underestimate the potential distribution of a given species. The climatic niches of species in their native ranges differed from those of their non-native ranges. Niche comparisons resulted in low overlap values, indicating considerable niche shifts, at least in the realized niches of these species. All four species have high potential to spread over many tropical and subtropical areas. However, transferring these results to temperate areas has a high degree of uncertainty, and we urge caution when assessing the potential spread of tropical species that have been introduced to higher latitudes.