One possible response of species to climate change is shifting their geographical range so as to track their climatic niche. Many concerns have been raised about the species ability to disperse effectively. I argue that species may have mechanisms, like temperature-dependent sex determination (TSD), that are responsive to climate change and may facilitate an appropriate shift in their geographical range. More specifically, I hypothesize that, under stable climatic conditions, populations of some TSD species at the edge of their range are regulated by reduced growth rate (due to skewed sex ratios or due to limited availability of suitable nesting sites). Under climate change, these populations face new climatic conditions that trigger fast population growth (e.g. by more balanced sex ratio, or greater availability of nesting sites). Increased population size may lead to increased dispersal, and thus efficient colonization of the newly created habitat patches. So, the species rapidly tracks the geographical position of its climatic niche. This conceptual model is speculative but it leads to specific hypotheses, and opens up new research questions about the existence of prior adaptations that will enable the appropriate response to climate change. © 2009 Oikos.
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