Pets or predators? climate change and invasion risk of red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elgans)
Keywords:Climate Change, IAS, Native Biodiversity, Niche Shift, Policy
Red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) is one of the popular turtles in the pet trade worldwide and is known to be the worst invasive species in several countries. Several records of T. s. elegans exist from India, indicating its possible expansion in the natural habitat but lack a comprehensive investigation. Using the ecological niche modelling tools, we here predict the possible expansion with changing climatic scenarios and test the hypothesis of niche conservatism. Our study indicates a significant increase in the suitable areas of RES that also correlates with the high diversity regions of Indian chelonians. We also discuss the gaps in existing laws and policies in India handling exotic/invasive species and recommend policy and management suggestions.