Inconsistent range shifts within species highlight idiosyncratic responses to climate warming

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Abstract

<p>Climate in part determines species’ distributions, and species’ distributions are shifting in response to climate change. Strong correlations between the magnitude of temperature changes and the extent of range shifts point to warming temperatures as the single most influential factor causing shifts in species’ distributions species. However, other abiotic and biotic factors may alter or even reverse these patterns. The importance of temperature relative to these other factors can be evaluated by examining range shifts of the same species in different geographic areas. When the same species experience warming in different geographic areas, the extent to which they show range shifts that are similar in direction and magnitude is a measure of temperature’s importance. We analyzed published studies to identify species that have documented range shifts in separate areas. For 273 species of plants, birds, mammals, and marine invertebrates with range shifts measured in multiple geographic areas, 42-50% show inconsistency in the direction of their range shifts, despite experiencing similar warming trends. Inconsistency of within-species range shifts highlights how biotic interactions and local, non-thermal abiotic conditions may often supersede the direct physiological effects of temperature. Assemblages show consistent responses to climate change, but this predictability does not appear to extend to species considered individually.</p>

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Gibson-Reinemer, D. K., & Rahel, F. J. (2015). Inconsistent range shifts within species highlight idiosyncratic responses to climate warming. PLoS ONE, 10(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0132103

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