Congener diversity, topographic heterogeneity and human-assisted dispersal predict spread rates of alien herpetofauna at a global scale

Xuan Liu, Xianping Li, Zetian Liu, Reid Tingley, Fred Kraus, Zhongwei Guo, Yiming Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding the factors that determine rates of range expansion is not only crucial for developing risk assessment schemes and management strategies for invasive species, but also provides important insight into the ability of species to disperse in response to climate change. However, there is little knowledge on why some invasions spread faster than others at large spatiotemporal scales. Here, we examine the effects of human activities, species traits and characteristics of the invaded range on spread rates using a global sample of alien reptile and amphibian introductions. We show that spread rates vary remarkably among invaded locations within a species, and differ across biogeographical realms. Spread rates are positively related to the richness of native congeneric species and human-assisted dispersal in the invaded range but are negatively correlated with topographic heterogeneity. Our findings highlight the importance of environmental characteristics and human-assisted dispersal in developing robust frameworks for predicting species' range shifts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)821-829
Number of pages9
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Biological invasion
  • Biotic acceptance hypothesis
  • Climate change
  • Darwin's naturalisation hypothesis
  • Invasiveness
  • Range shifts
  • Rates of range expansion

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