Invasive American bullfrogs and African clawed frogs in South America: high suitability of occurrence in biodiversity hotspots

Invasion of protected areas by non-native species is currently one of the main threats to global biodiversity. Using an ensemble of bioclimatic envelope models we quantify the degree of exposure of South American protected areas to invasion by two invasive amphibian species. We focus on protected areas that coincide with global biodiversity hotspots. The species modeled, Lithobates catesbeianus and Xenopus laevis, have been reported to threaten local faunas in several non-native areas that they invaded, including areas in Asia, Europe, North America, and South America. We show that 87.5% of the protected areas within the Atlantic Forest may be most at risk of invasion by L. catesbeianus and X. laevis under current climate conditions, followed by areas in the Cerrado (51.7), Tropical Andes (37.6%), Tumbes-Choco-Magdalena (22.5%), and Chilean Winter Rainfall and Valdivian Forests (20.5%). Conservation plans for these regions should, therefore, consider latent threats from multiple sources including invasion by highly competitive non-native species such as the ones modeled in our study.