Ensemble modelling of the potential invasion of Prosopis juliflora (SW.) DC in Makuran region

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Range and Watershed Management, Faculty of Natural Resources, Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan, Iran

2 Department of Environmental Science, Faculty of Natural Resources, Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan, Iran

3 Department of Range & Watershead Management, Faculty of Natural Resources, Isfahan University of Technology

4 Department of Forest Management, Faculty of Natural Resources, Sari Agricultural and Natural Resources University, Sari, Iran


Introduction: Invasive species are currently the concern of ecologists, conservationists and natural resource managers, and they may decrease biodiversity due to their rapid spread. These species cause changes in ecological processes, function and structure of communities in natural ecosystems. The most obvious change in the invaded areas is the reduction of biodiversity and the creation of a pure community of invasive plants. One of the invasive species in our country is Prosopis juliflora, which is important in the field of combat desertification, biological control and stabilization of quicksand dunes in the southern regions of Iran due to its resistance to adverse environmental conditions.
Material and methods: In the present study, the efficiency of five discrimination group models (GLM, GBM, ANN, SRE, RF) and a profile model (MAXENT) and their ensemble with the weighted average approach in the spatial distribution of this species in Makuran region and determining the most important environmental factors affecting the invasion distribution were investigated. By recording 63 occurrence points and 100 absence points, using climatic, physiographic and human variables as environmental variables, and evaluating the performance of models by Area under Curve (AUC), True Skill Statistics (TSS), Sensitivity and Specificity, the species invasion potential was determined.
Results and discussion: Among the single algorithms, according to the threshold-independent and threshold-dependent evaluation criteria, two machine learning techniques, i.e. RF and GBM, predicted the climatic habitat of this invasive species with higher accuracy. Also, the evaluation criteria in the ensemble prediction were higher than the average of all single modeling algorithms. According to the ensemble model, P. juliflora habitats occupy about 15% of the total study area. After generalization of the models to the geographical space, it was found that the invaded areas have spread in a uniform strip on the shores of the Oman Sea and the Persian Gulf. Evaluation of variable importance indicated that altitude was the most important independent variable justifying about half of the changes in the ensemble model and has the greatest effect on species distribution. The variable of distance from the road was the next important variable. However, the aspect was mentioned as the least important environmental variable affecting the scattering of the invasion. Based on response curves, the maximum probability of the species' presence was observed at the altitude of 50 m above sea level and a distance less than 50 m from the road. Also, the species is most likely to be present, if the temperature in the warmest month and the coldest season of the year is more than 34 and 14 °C, respectively, and the precipitation seasonality is 100-150. 
Conclusion: It was found that the integrated algorithms in the framework of ensemble modeling showed higher accuracy and the maps derived from the potential distribution of species invasion make it possible to restrict and manage the distribution range of invasive species by providing management solutions and conserving plans to protect native species. In fact, the results of this study can be used as a basis for subsequent monitoring to prevent further spread of invasive species and to create a balance between the native vegetation protection programs of the region and desertification management measures.


Ahmed, N., Atzberger, C. and Zewdie, W., 2022a. The potential of modeling Prosopis Juliflora invasion using Sentinel-2 satellite data and environmental variables in the dryland ecosystem of Ethiopia. Ecological Informatics. 68, 101545.
Ahmed, N., Atzberger, C. and Zewdie, W., 2022b. Remote sensing-derived bioclimatic variables for modeling invasive Prosopis juliflora distribution in a region of limited meteorological stations. Tropical Ecology. 63, 94-103.
Ahrari Roudi, M., Mousavi Harami, S.R., Lak, R., Motamed, A. and Mahboobi, A., 2011. Environmental survey- sedimentology of the coastal areas of the Makuran sea of Iran (south of Sistan and Baluchestan province). Applied Geology. 7(4), 289-298. (In Persian)
Akbarian, M. and Biniaz, M., 2011. Evaluation of plant species used in wind erosion control. Environmental Erosion Research. 1(2), 29042. (In Persian with English Abstract)
Akrimi, N., 1990. Prosopis in Tunisia. In: Habit, M.A. and Saavedra, J.C. (Eds.), The Current State of Knowledge on Prosopis juliflora. FAO, Rome, Italy. pp. 147-151.
Al-Abdali, S., Al-Dhuhli, A. and Al-Reasi, H., 2019. Preliminary investigations of allelopathic effects and herbicide-based eradication of mesquite (Prosopis juliflora). Sultan Qaboos University Journal for Science. 24(1), 11-17.
Allouche, O., Tsoar, A. and Kadmon, R., 2006. Assessing the accuracy of species distribution models: prevalence, kappa and the true skill statistic (TSS). Journal of Applied Ecology. 43(6), 1223-1232.
Amiri, M., Solaimani, K. and Miryaghoubzadeh, M., 2013. Fuzzy classification for mapping invasive species from multispectral imagery. Journal of the Indian Society of Remote Sensing. 41, 749-755.
Amiri, M., Tarkesh, M. and Jafari, R., 2019. Predicting the distribution of Artemisia sieberi Besser under climate change in steppe and semi-steppe of Iran-Touranian region. Desert Management. 13, 29-48. (In Persian with English Abstract).
Araújo, M.B. and New, M., 2007. Ensemble forecasting of species distributions. Trends in Ecological Evolution. 22(1), 42-46.
Ayanu, Y., Jentsch, A., Müller-Mahn, D., Rettberg, S., Romankiewicz, C. and Koellner, T., 2014. Ecosystem engineer unleashed: Prosopis juliflora threatening ecosystem services? Regional Environmental Change. 15(1), 155-167.
Behnamfar, K., Orsham, A., Saleheh Shushtari, M.H., Tavoosi, M., Danaii, A.R. and Adel, J.A., 2018. Determination of tolerance to below-zero temperatures in Prosopis juliflora using physiological indices. Range and Desert Research. 26(1), 49-61. (In Persian with English Abstract).
Dakhil, M.A., El-Keblawy, A., El-Sheikh, M.A., Halmy, M.W.A., Ksiksi, T. and Hassan, W.A., 2021. Global invasion risk assessment of Prosopis juliflora at biome level: does soil matter? Biology. 10(3), 203.
Dobrowski, S.Z., Thorne, J.H., Greenberg, J.A., Saffort, H.D., Mynsberge, A.R., Crimmins, S.M. and Swanson, A.K., 2011. Modeling plant ranges over 75 years of climate change in California, USA: temporal transferability and species traits. Ecological Monographs. 81, 241-257.
Elith, J., Graham, C.H. and Anderson, R.P., 2006. Novel methods improve prediction of species distributions from occurrence data. Ecoghraphy. 135, 213-222.
El-Keblawy, A. and Abdelfatah, M., 2014. Impact of native and invasive exotic Prosopis congeners on soil properties and associated flora in the arid United Arab Emirates. Journal of Arid Environments. 100, 1-8.
Eskandari Damaneh, H., Zehtabian, G., Khosravi, H., Azarnivand, H. and Barati, A., 2020. Investigating the influence of drought on trend of vegetation changes in arid and semiarid regions, using remote sensing technique: a case study of Hormozgan province). Desert Ecosystem Engineering. 28, 13-28. (In Persian with English Abstract).
Ghanbari, F., 2018. Investigation the effects of Superabsorbent on Performance of Prosopis Juliflora in Rehabilitation Projects of Desert Area (Case Study: Mohsen Ab, Mehran). MS.c. Thesis. University of Ilam, Ilam, Iran. 
Heshmati, I., Khorasani, N., Shams-Esfandabad, B. and Riazi, B., 2019. Forthcoming risk of Prosopis juliflora global invasion triggered by climate change: implications for environmental monitoring and risk assessment. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. 191, 72.
Huang, C. and Asner, G.P., 2009. Applications of remote sensing to alien invasive plant studies. Sensors. 9, 4869-4889.
Hundessa, N. and Fufa, A., 2016. Distribution and socio-economic impacts of Prosopis juliflora in East Shewa and West Arsi Zones, Ethiopia. International Journal of African and Asian Studies. 24, 31-41.
Ilukor, J., Birner, R., Tilahun, M. and Getu, S., 2014. A social-economic assessment of the impact of Prosopis juliflora invasion and participative management approaches in the Afar Region, Ethiopia. In Proceedings the First Regional Conference on Managing Prosopis Juliflora for Better (agro-) Pastoral Livelihoods in the Horn of Africa. 1st-2nd May, Addis Ababa, Ehiopia. pp 30-39.
Jazirehi, M.H., 2002. Afforestation in Arid Environment. Tehran University Press, Tehran, Iran.
Jones, C.C., 2012. Challenges in predicting the future distributions of invasive plant species. Forest Ecology and Management. 284, 69-77.
Keshavarzi, M., Reissi Lelari, F. and Farasat, N., 2016. Morphological study of the genus Prosopis (Fabaceae) In Iran. Plant Research (Iranian Journal of Biology). 29(2), 426-440. (In Persian with English Abstract).
Kiani, B., Rahiminia, G. and Emtehani, M.H., 2020. Investigation of the structure, distribution pattern and regeneration of Taradeh desert forest, Kerman. Desert Management. 8(15), 85-100. (In Persian with English Abstract).
Kumar, S., Spaulding, S.A., Stohlgren, T.J., Herman, K.A., Schmidt, T.S. and Bahls L.L., 2009. Potential habitat distribution for the freshwater diatum Didymosphenia geminata in the continental US. Frontiers in Ecology and Environment. 7(8), 415-420.
Kyuma, R.K., Wahome, R.G., Kinama, J.M. and Wasonga, V.O., 2016. Temporal relationship between climate variability, Prosopis juliflora invasion and livestock numbers in the drylands of Magadi, Kenya. African Journal of Environmental Science and Technology. 10(4), 129-140.
Linders, T.E.W., Schaffner, U., Eschen, R., Abebe, A., Choge, S.K., Kigatu, L., Mbaabu, P.R., Shiferaw, H. and Allan, E., 2019. Direct and indirect effect of invasive species: Biodiversity loss is a major mechanism by which an invasive an invasive tree affects ecosystem functioning. Ecology. 107, 2660-2670.
Madani, S., Ravanbakhsh, M. and Panahandeh, M., 2017. A review of the assessment and management of the ecological risk of invasive plants. Environmental Research and Technology. 2(2), 25-33. (In Persian with English Abstract).
Mafi-Gholami, D. and Jafari, A., 2021. Mapping the sensitivity of mangroves of the Hormozgan province to environmental hazards based on the canopy cover percentage. Forest Research and Development. 7(1), 27-43. (In Persian with English Abstract).
Masocha, M. and Dube, T., 2018. Global terrestrial biomes at risk of cacti invasion identified for four species using consensual modelling. Journal of Arid Environment. 256, 77-86.
McCary, M.A., Mores, R., Farfan, M.A. and Wise, D.H., 2016. Invasive plants have different effects on tropical structure of green and brown food webs in terrestrial ecosystems: a meta-analysis. Ecology Letters. 6(2), 328-335.
Mehrabian, A., Khajoei Nasab, F., Naghizadeh, S. and Malek Mohammadi, L., 2021. Distribution patterns of introduced plants of Iran. Applied Ecology. 35(3), 115-157. (In Persian with English Abstract).
Moslehi, M., Ahmadi, A., Sadeghi, S.M., Hassani, M. and Ghaderi, E., 2021. Effects of leaf and bark extraction of Prosopis juliflora on emergence characteristics of rangeland species Pennisetum divisum and Taverniera spartea. Range and Desert Research 28(4), 672-685. (In Persian with English Abstract).
Najafi–Tireh–Shabankareh, K., 2006. The Position of Prosopis juliflora in Creating Green Space, Bandar Abbas, Prosopis Training Working Group in Bandar Abbas. Rangeland and Watershed Management Organization-Office of Desert Affairs, Iran.  
Najafi–Tireh–Shabankareh, K., Jalili, A. and Asadpoor, R., 2014. Investigation on invasion effects of Prosopis juliflora (SW.) DC. Arid Biome. 4(1), 54-64. (In Persian with English Abstract).
Ng, W-T, Silva, A.C.O., Rima, P., Atzberger, C. and Immitzer, M., 2018. Ensemble approach for potential habitat mapping of invasive Prosopis spp. in Turkana Kenya. Ecology and Evolution. 8(23), 1-11.
Noha, A., Nigatu, L. and Manikandan, R., 2021. Impacts of Prosopis juliflora L. on Soil Seed Bank Flora in Amibara Rangeland of Afar Regional State, Ethiopia. Agricultural Science Digest. 41(4), 566-571.
Panda, R.M., Behera, M.D. and Roy, P.S., 2018. Assessing distributions of two invasive species of contrasting habits in future climate. Journal of Environmental Management. 213, 478-488.
Pasiecznik, N.M., Felker, P., Harris, P.J.C., Harsh, L.N., Cruz, G., Tewari, J.C., Cadoret, K. and Maldonado, L.J., 2001. The Prosopis juliflora-Prosopis pallida Complex: A Monograph. HDRA, Coventry, UK. pp.172.
Pasiecznik, N.M., Harris, P.J.C. and Smith, S., 2004. Identifying Tropical Prosopis Species: A Field Guide. HDRA, Coventry, UK.
Rad, M.H., Dehghani, F., Momenpoor, A. and Soltani Gerdeframarzi, W., 2020. Evaluation of salinity tolerance of some afforestation and landscaping plants. Iran Nature. 5(2), 53-62. (In Persian with English Abstract).
Rahmati, O., Panahi, M., Ghiasi, S.S., Deo, R.C., Tiefenbacher, J.P., Pradhan, B., Jahani, A., Goshtasb, H., Kornejady, A., Shahabi, H., Shirzadi, A., Khosravi, H., Moghaddam, D.D., Mohtashamian, M. and Bui, D.T., 2020. Hybridized neural fuzzy ensembles for dust source modeling and prediction. Atmospheric Environment. 224, 117320.
Rouget, M., Richardson, D.M., Nel, J.L., Le, M., David, C., Egoh, B. and Mgidi, T., 2004. Mapping the potential ranges of major plant invaders in South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland using climatic suitability. Diversity and Distributions. 10, 475-484.
Sabeti, H., 2008. Forests, Trees and Shrubs of Iran. Yazd University Press, Yazd, Iran.
Saleh, S.A.A. and Ameen, A.A., 2014. Prosopis juliflora in Yemen. In Proceedings the First Regional Conference on Managing Prosopis Juliflora for Better (agro-) Pastoral Livelihoods in the Horn of Africa. 1st-2nd May, Addis Ababa, Ehiopia. pp. 125-128.
Shiferaw, W., Bekele, T., Demissew, S. and Aynekulu, E., 2019. Prosopis juliflora invasion and environmental factors on density of soil seed bank in Afar Region, Northeast Ethiopia. Journal of Ecology and Environment. 43, 1-8.
Shiferaw, W., Demissew, A., Bekele, T., Aynekulu, E. and Pitroff, W., 2020. Analysis of composition and density of soil seed banks of Prosopis juliflora in Afar region rangelands, Northeast Ethiopia. Rangelands. 43(1), 1-8.
Shrestha, U.B., Sharma, K.P., Devkota, A., Siwakoti, M., Shrestha, B.B., 2018. Potential impact of climate change on the distribution of six invasive alien plants in Nepal. Ecological Indicators. 95, 99-107.
Sintayehu, D.W., Dalle, G. and Bobasa, A.F., 2020. Impacts of climate change on current and future invasion of Prosopis julifora in Ethiopia: environmental and socio-economic implications. Heliyon. 6, 1-7.
Soltanipour, M.A., 1993. Studying the ecological characteristics of Prosopis juliflora in Hormozgan province. Hormozgan Agricultural and Natural Resources Research Center, Iran.
Stohlgren, T.J., Ma, P., Kumar, S., Rocca, M., Morisette, J.T., Jarnevich, C. and Benson, N., 2010. Ensemble habitat mapping of invasive plant species. Risk Analysis. 30(2), 224-235.
Tavousi, T. and Yari, M., 2013. Determination of thermal comfort range in planning tourism climate case: Sistan and Baluchestan. Geography and Development. 31, 29-46. (In Persian with English Abstract).
Treydte, A.C., Birhane, E. and Eshete, A., 2014. Ecological challenges and potential carbon storage benefits of Prosopis juliflora in Afar. In Proceedings the First Regional Conference on Managing Prosopis Juliflora for Better (agro-) Pastoral Livelihoods in the Horn of Africa. 1st-2nd May, Addis Ababa, Ehiopia. pp. 18-29.
Wakie, T.T., Evangelista, P.H., Jarnevich, C.S. and Laituri, M., 2014. Mapping current and potential distribution of non-native Prosopis juliflora in the Afar region of Ethiopia. Plos One. 9(11), 1-9.
Zaeifi, M., 1996. A Brief Summary of the Planting of Prosopis juliflora in the Southern Coastal Regions of Iran, Emphasizing Its Limitations. Hormozgan Agricultural and Natural Resources Research Center, Iran.
Zare Bidaki, G. and Mollakhalili, M.H., 2014. Investigation species and plant communities in the Persian Gulf-Oman Sea region. The 1st National Conference on Sustainable Agricultural and Natural Resources, 30 January 2014. Tehran, Iran. pp.  123-133.