Image_2_Present-Day Distribution and Potential Spread of the Invasive Green Alga Avrainvillea amadelpha Around the Main Hawaiian Islands.TIF
Algal assemblages are critical components of marine ecosystems from the intertidal to mesophotic depths; they act as primary producers, nutrient cyclers, and substrate providers. Coral reef ecosystems can be disrupted by stressors such as storm events, effluent inundation, sudden temperature shifts, and non-native invaders. Avrainvillea amadelpha is an invasive green alga that was first recorded in the main Hawaiian Islands on the west shore of Oahu and has continued to be of concern due to its extreme competitiveness with native algae and seagrasses. It has spread rapidly across the island of Oahu, decreasing the biodiversity of the benthos from shorelines to ∼90 m depth. We employed a boosted regression tree modeling framework to identify highly vulnerable regions prone to invasion. Our model indicated that regions exposed to minimal bottom currents and at least five degree heating weeks are particularly susceptible to A. amadelpha colonization. Additionally, we extrapolated our model to the main Hawaiian Islands and forecasted how a 25% increase in statewide annual maximum degree heating weeks may change habitat suitability for A. amadelpha. Across all islands, we identified particularly vulnerable “hotspot” regions of concern for resource managers and conservationists. This manuscript demonstrates the utility of this approach for identifying priority regions for invasive species management in the face of a changing climate.