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Durham University

Department of Biosciences


Publication details for Dr Wayne Dawson

Klonner, G., Dullinger, I., Wessely, J., Bossdorf, O., Carboni, M., Dawson, W., Essl, F., Gattringer, A., Haeuser, E., van Kleunen, M., Kreft, H., Moser, D., Pergl, J., Pyšek, P., Thuiller, W., Weigelt, P., Winter, M. & Dullinger, S. (2017). Will climate change increase hybridization risk between potential plant invaders and their congeners in Europe? Diversity and Distributions 23(8): 934-943.

Author(s) from Durham



Interspecific hybridization can promote invasiveness of alien species. In many regions of the world, public and domestic gardens contain a huge pool of non-native plants. Climate change may relax constraints on their naturalization and hence facilitate hybridization with related species in the resident flora. Here, we evaluate this possible increase in hybridization risk by predicting changes in the overlap of climatically suitable ranges between a set of garden plants and their congeners in the resident flora.




From the pool of alien garden plants, we selected those which (1) are not naturalized in Europe, but established outside their native range elsewhere in the world; (2) belong to a genus where interspecific hybridization has been previously reported; and (3) have congeners in the native and naturalized flora of Europe. For the resulting set of 34 alien ornamentals as well as for 173 of their European congeners, we fitted species distribution models and projected suitable ranges under the current climate and three future climate scenarios. Changes in range overlap between garden plants and congeners were then assessed by means of the true skill statistic.


Projections suggest that under a warming climate, suitable ranges of garden plants will increase, on average, while those of their congeners will remain constant or shrink, at least under the more severe climate scenarios. The mean overlap in ranges among congeners of the two groups will decrease. Variation among genera is pronounced; however, and for some congeners, range overlap is predicted to increase significantly.

Main conclusions:

Averaged across all modelled species, our results do not indicate that hybrids between potential future invaders and resident species will emerge more frequently in Europe when climate warms. These average trends do not preclude, however, that hybridization risk may considerably increase in particular genera.