Projecting the potential invasion of the Pink Spotted Hawkmoth (Agrius cingulata) across Africa
BIOMOD, climate niche, Ecological niche model, Ipomoea, Maxent, species distribution, Sphingidae, sweet potato
Agrius cingulata (Lepidoptera, Sphingidae) is widespread in the Americas, but has recently begun to spread into Africa. In parts of its native range, the species is a pest of sweet potato, which is an important crop plant in Africa. We used two types of ecological niche models, based on native distribution records and climate and vegetation structure data, to estimate which regions of Africa are potentially suitable for the species to become established. The results show that, under the simplifying assumption that the species will occupy the same ecological niche in Africa as in its native range, A. cingulata may find a suitable habitat across wide stretches of sub-Saharan Africa. We conclude that early monitoring programmes of the spread and actual status of the species in Africa may be worthwhile implementing.