Niche overlap of congeneric invaders supports a single-species hypothesis and provides insight into future invasion risk: Implications for global management of the Bactrocera dorsalis complex
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Background: The invasive fruit fly, Bactrocera invadens, has expanded its range rapidly over the past 10 years. Here we aimed to determine if the recent range expansion of Bactrocera invadens into southern Africa can be better understood through niche exploration tools, ecological niche models (ENMs), and through incorporating information about Bactrocera dorsalis s.s., a putative conspecific species from Asia. We test for niche overlap of environmental variables between Bactrocera invadens and Bactrocera dorsalis s.s. as well as two other putative conspecific species, Bactrocera philippinensis and B. papayae. We examine overlap and similarity in the geographical expression of each species’ realised niche through reciprocal distribution models between Africa and Asia. We explore different geographical backgrounds, environmental variables and model complexity with multiple and single Bactrocera species hypotheses in an attempt to predict the recent range expansion of B. invadens into northern parts of South Africa. Principal Findings: Bactrocera invadens has a high degree of niche overlap with B. dorsalis s.s. (and B. philippinensis and B. papayae). Ecological niche models built for Bactrocera dorsalis s.s. have high transferability to describe the range of B. invadens, and B. invadens is able to project to the core range of B. dorsalis s.s. The ENMs of both Bactrocera dorsalis and B. dorsalis combined with B. philipenesis and B. papayae have significantly higher predictive ability to capture the distribution points in South Africa than for B. invadens alone. Conclusions/Significance: Consistent with other studies proposing these Bactrocera species as conspecific, niche similarity and overlap between these species is high. Considering these other Bactrocera dorsalis complex species simultaneously better describes the range expansion and invasion potential of B. invadens in South Africa. We suggest that these species should be considered the same–at least functionally–and global quarantine and management strategies applied equally to these Bactrocera species.