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Due to increasing global trade and travel, non-native species have arrived on . Some of these species become invasive, and they have long been thought to possess special traits allowing them to flourish in their new environment.
As climate change shifts the parameters of our environment, species — invasive and otherwise — must adapt to new challenges. Though researchers have long believed that invasive species are better able to adapt to novel climate conditions, finds that invasive alien ant species showed less colonization of new climate types than non-invasive alien species.
If the set of climate, habitat, and resource conditions an organism exists in is its niche, then a niche shift is an expansion or contraction of those conditions. By analyzing a of ant range information, scientists in Switzerland and France found that the greatest predictor of niche shifts for ants is not their invasiveness, but their native range and niche size.
This study paints a more hopeful picture of the dual threats of climate change and invasive species — two of the to biodiversity worldwide. If climate change does not accelerate invasive species’ range expansion, , the interaction of these two factors may not be as dire.
However, these findings point back to the evergreen question: Which factors make a species invasive? For ants, at least, it seems as though the ability to niche shift is not one of them.