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Studies of realized niche shifts in alien species typically ignore the potential effects of intraspecific niche variation and different invaded-range environments on niche lability. We incorporate our detailed knowledge of the native-range source populations and global introduction history of the delicate skink Lampropholis delicata to examine intraspecific variation in realized niche expansion and unfilling, and investigate how alternative niche modelling approaches are affected by that variation. We analyzed the realized niche dynamics of L. delicata using an ordination method, ecological niche models (ENMs), and occurrence records from 1) Australia (native range), 2) New Zealand, 3) Hawaii, 4) the two distinct native-range clades that were the sources for the New Zealand and Hawaii introductions, and 5) the species' global range (including Lord Howe Island, Australia). We found a gradient of realized niche change across the invaded ranges of L. delicata: niche stasis on Lord Howe Island, niche unfilling in New Zealand (16%), and niche unfilling (87%) and expansion (14%) in Hawaii. ENMs fitted to native-range data generally identified suitable climatic conditions at sites where the species has established non-native populations, whereas ENMs based on native-range source clades and non-native populations had lower spatial transferability. Our results suggest that the extent to which realized niches are maintained during invasion does not depend on species-level traits. When realized niche shifts are predominately due to niche unfilling, fully capturing species' responses along climatic gradients by basing ENMs on native distributions may be more important for accurate invasion forecasts than incorporating phylogenetic differentiation, or integrating niche changes in the invaded range.
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