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1 Abril 2024

Modeling the potential spread of the non-native regal demoiselle, Neopomacentrus cyanomos, in the western Atlantic

Predicting the potential distribution of a non-native species can assist management efforts to mitigate impacts on recipient ecosystems. However, such predictions are lacking for marine species, such as the non-native regal demoiselle, Neopomacentrus cyanomos, that is currently expanding its distribution in the western Atlantic. We used correlative species distribution models with three common algorithms to predict suitable habitat for N. cyanomos in the region. We compared models developed using native, non-native, and global occurrences to differentiate drivers across separate ranges using a suite of 12 environmental characteristics. While final models included an ensemble of variables, the majority ranked the combined effect of temperature variables as a key predictor correlated with the distribution of N. cyanomos. Habitat suitability increased as water temperatures increased beyond 16 °C and where annual thermal ranges were greater than 10 °C at the shallowest depth with substrate within a study cell (~ 9.2 km2 resolution). Habitat suitability also increased where maximum surface temperatures were greater than 27 °C. In the non-native range, the proportion of reef available in each cell was another important variable increasing the suitable habitat for N. cyanomos. Our models predicted high habitat suitability for N. cyanomos throughout the Greater Caribbean, in higher latitudes along North and South American Atlantic coasts, in the eastern Pacific Ocean, and highlights key areas where managers can monitor and target potential removal efforts. The distribution of this non-native species is likely to continue expanding throughout the region with little known about potential implications on native communities.

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