Climate change and nutria range expansion in the Eastern United States

Dylan J. Hilts, Michael W. Belitz, Thomas M. Gehring, Kevin L. Pangle, Donald G. Uzarski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Nutria (Myocastor coypus) are an introduced invasive species expanding their range in North America and may have detrimental effects on wetlands. Little is known about habitat covariates that may limit or enhance range expansion of nutria, especially when combined with predicted changes in climate. We used a hierarchical modeling approach to develop broad- and local-scale maximum entropy (MaxEnt) models based on nutria harvest records in the eastern United States from 2006–2015. We developed models for current conditions and for climate change projections in 2050. At a broad scale, nutria habitat was located in areas with ≤80 annual freezing days. At local scales, nutria were found in areas with high proportions of freshwater forested-shrub wetlands close to other wetlands. Managers who are concerned about possible nutria range expansion can use this hierarchical modeling framework to identify areas for surveillance and prioritize control efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)591-598
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Wildlife Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2019


  • MaxEnt
  • climate change
  • hierarchical models
  • invasive species
  • nutria
  • range expansion
  • species distribution models
  • wetlands
  • wildlife-human conflict


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