Theme 1

Implications of species range change for health, food security and ecosystem services


  • Cassandra De Young, Department of Fisheries and Agriculture, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, Italy
  • Professor Birgitta Evengård, Clinic Infectious Diseases, Umeå University hospital, Sweden


  • Professor Johann Bell, Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security, University of Wollongong, Australia

Based on business as usual emission scenarios, climate model projections suggest the rate of climate change will accelerate in the foreseeable future. Hence, we could be observing even more changes in species’ future ranges. This has implications for human health, species conservation, food security and ecosystem services. Through sharing information on both observed and expected implications of range changes and possible solutions we hope to facilitate development of novel and improved management responses in a range of areas dependent on healthy natural systems.

Theme 2

Detection, attribution and facilitation of range change


  • Dr Cascade Sorte, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, USA
  • Dr Timothy C. Bonebrake, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China


  • Associate Professor Jonathan Lenoir, Université de Picardie Jules Verne (UPJV), France

Detection of range changes and the attribution to climate change remain key challenges – methods developed for attributing physical changes may be modified to resolve climate and non-climate contributions to change. Changes in some species’ ranges may be advantageous for industry and society. If so, methods of facilitating change, such as enabling corridors and translocation, may be viewed more favourably. Once facilitation (of the range change) has commenced we need to have sufficient power to detect any changes are consistent with expectation and a range of approaches for evaluating progress are needed.

Theme 3

Changing distributions and conservation paradigms


  • Dr I-Ching Chen, Department of Life Sciences, National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan
  • Dr Raquel Garcia, University of Cape Town, Statistics in Ecology, the Environment and Conservation, South Africa


  • Dr Nathalie Pettorelli, Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, UK

Despite widespread concern, the continuing effectiveness of existing conservation paradigms under projected 21st century climate change is uncertain. Shifts in species’ distributions could mean existing approaches will cease to afford protection to those species for which they were originally intended. Additionally, a new suite of species may colonize and establish viable populations. An increasing rate of turnover of species in any given area creates a number of challenges for conservation that may require more rigorous testing and evaluation of our current paradigms to assess how robust they are under a changing climate.

Theme 4

Biological responses at the species level – physiology & genetics



  • Associate Professor Jan Strugnell, Department of Ecology, Environment and Evolution, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia

Understanding how behaviour, physiology, morphology and the inter-specific interactions of an organism are directly affected by the climatic conditions at a local scale is a critical part of increasing understanding of species range limits and how these could change in the future. However, It is equally important to consider evolutionary potential when assessing potential shifts in range and abundance, since a species distribution limit is as much an evolutionary constraint as it is an ecological one. Improving the accuracy of predicted change in the distribution of these species and their associated impacts will be improved through a better understanding of the mechanistic links between climate and organisms, and a consideration of evolutionary responses.

Theme 5

Cultural, social and economic dimensions of range shifts and changing ecosystems


  • Dr Peter Pulsifer, National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), University of Colorado, USA and Exchange for Local Observations and Knowledge of the Arctic (ELOKA)


  • Dr Tero Munstonen, Snowchange Cooperative, Finland; head village of Selkie, North Karelia Finland

Invited Speaker

  • Emma Lee, University of Tasmania, Australia

The impacts of species range shifts and changing ecosystems often extend beyond environmental domains to human cultural, social and economic dimensions. Changing distributions of species that are ecosystem engineers, form habitats for other species, or underpin food production systems can have significant social or economic impacts. The implications of such shifts are often most serious in highly climate sensitive environments, those affected by poverty, or with subsistence agro-based livelihoods. Moreover, the culture of many people and places is intimately tied to both the climate and the local ecology. Cultural, social and economic dimensions are of critical importance in understanding the impacts of shifting species distributions, and in developing appropriate adaptation responses.

Theme 6

Governance, legal and ethical issues for managing shifting species and changing ecosystems


  • Professor David VanderZwaag, Canada Research Chair in Ocean Law and Governance, Marine & Environmental Law Institute, Dalhousie University, Canada


  • Professor Tim Stephens, ARC Future Fellow, Faculty of Law, University of Sydney, Australia

There are ethical, legal and governance issues that arise when management intervention is considered in response to changes in species range. As the rate of climate change accelerates and food security issues potentially become more prevalent, so may the debates over whether various management interventions are defensible based on legal, moral and regulatory grounds.

Theme 7

Modelling Change from Molecules to Ecosystems: Understanding and representing multi-scale mechanisms that link climate, humans and living resources


  • Associate Professor Julia Blanchard, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Australia
  • Professor Robert Colwell, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs CT, USA


  • Professor Miguel B. Araujo, Imperial College London, UK & National Museum of Natural Sciences, CSIC, Spain

Understanding of the climate system and its representation within climate models has progressed to a point where many climate model outputs are used effectively in a variety of modelling approaches. However, uncertainty in climate model projections, coarse climate model resolution, and the uncertainty and potential complexity of the mechanisms underlying ecological, biological, ecosystem and human responses to climate limit the robustness and precision of projections. Collaboration between modellers and a shared understanding of critical challenges, such as the multi-scale mechanisms than link climate, humans and other species, are essential for improving the robustness of projections of climate impacts.

Theme 8

Impacts of climate change on composition and structure of ecological communities


  • Dr Marta A. Jarzyna, Yale Climate and Energy Institute Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University, USA
  • Dr Ryan Powers, NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University, USA
  • Dr Mao-Ning Tuanmu, Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University, USA
  • Professor Walter Jetz (TBC), Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University, USA


  • Dr Simon Ferrier, OCE Science Leader, CSIRO Land & Water Flagship & Adjunct Professor, Australian National University, Senior Fellow, UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre, Co-Chair, IPBES Methodological Assessment of Scenario Analysis & Modelling of Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services

The ability to predict the consequences of climate change to biodiversity and develop sound conservation strategies depend on our understanding of the relationship between changes in biodiversity patterns and climatic variability. To date, the majority of research regarding the implications of climate change to biodiversity has evaluated responses of individual species. The variability of individual species responses is predicted to lead to disruptions of communities and ecosystems, but the complex nature of ecological interactions makes it difficult to extrapolate from the scales of individuals to the community or ecosystem level. In order to fully understand consequences of climate change, it is imperative to develop a more comprehensive understanding on where, when and how climate change can lead to broad-scale changes in community structure and composition.  Reponses of ecological communities to climate change have so far attracted limited attention, though the interest in climate change-mediated community dynamics has been growing in recent years. Indeed, we think it will become one of the most vibrant research areas in the coming decades. This session will be devoted to examining known consequences of climate change to ecological communities and to reflecting on future directions of the field. Our aim is to host researchers from varied academic disciplines to provide a balance between terrestrial and aquatic (both freshwater and marine) systems.

Theme 9

Shifting species in polar terrestrial ecosystems: range expansion and invasions


  • Dr Justine Shaw, Environmental Decision Group, School of Biological Sciences at the University of Queensland, and the Australian Antarctic Division


  • Prof. Sharon Robinson, Co-Director Centre for Sustainable Ecosystem Solutions, University of Wollongong

The terrestrial Arctic has considerable connectivity with lower latitude area, while the Antarctic (and sub-Antarctic) are isolated. Yet species occurrence and distributions in terrestrial ecosystems at both poles are changing due to a range of factors, including anthropogenic activities and climate change. Comparing and contrasting the changes in polar systems in this context will provide insights into these impacts and their drivers. The objective of this session is to bring together researchers who are documenting changes in the distributions and abundance of terrestrial species at different spatial and temporal scales in polar regions, with a focus on research that clarifies the drivers of this change. Speakers in the session will present on various aspects of terrestrial species movements at the poles, including those due to invasive species and range shifts facilitated by climate change. Importantly, we will seek out presenters that can provide evidence of  links between their research and management and conservation planning in the region, especially those that can highlight the effective linkages between science and the transition to policy.

Theme 10

Management strategies for multiple objectives and benefits



  • Dr Mark Reynolds, The Nature Conservancy, USA

As species shift under climate change and cause ecosystems to change, including into novel forms, decision makers will need to grapple with unpopular trade offs and competing resource demands.  Management strategies that achieve multiple or co-benefits for conservation and industry have a better chance of uptake and durability. This session will identify opportunities and challenges for pursuing multiple or co-benefits through management actions and governance arrangements for mobile species. It will discuss the ways that controversial conservation and land management strategies can be developed and implemented to better balance economic, industry and developmental objectives with conservation and community well-being.  Examples of controversial strategies that directly or indirectly affect species on the move include biodiversity offsetting, dynamic spatial management and the use of assisted colonisation for species conservation and management and ecosystem resilience. These strategies have been the subject of vigorous debate in the scientific, policy and ethics literatures.  Given the existing controversies, and the need for urgent action to address dramatic species decline, this session will also seek to elicit proposals to address common critiques and explore efficient and equitable options for future uptake.With wide-ranging examples, the session will seek to bridge terrestrial, marine and coastal conservation and natural resource management disciplines.

The session will invite speakers to consider:

  • ways in which objectives may be reconceived, reformed and streamlined to facilitate multiple benefits from their implementation;
  • practical examples of strategies that meet multiple objectives and/or achieve multiple benefits;
  • opportunities for polycentric and integrated policy responses that have benefits across ecosystems and species as well as across sectors and industries; and
  • the ways in which the multiplicity of values provided by the environment – including health and well-being, tourism and other economic opportunities, conservation and biodiversity values – may be sustained or enhanced in environments that are changing as a result of species shifts under climate change.

Theme 11

Decision-making for assisted colonisation as a climate change adaptation strategy

This session is generously supported by the University of Queensland (UQ), the University of Western Australia (UWA) and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED).


  • Dr Eve McDonald-Madden (F), Senior Lecturer and ARC DECRA Fellow, The University of Queensland, Australia
  • Dr Alienor Chauvenet (F), Postdoctoral Research Fellow, The University of Queensland, Australia
  • Dr Nicola Mitchell (F), Senior Lecturer, University of Western Australia, Australia
  • Prof Hugh Possingham (M), Professor, University of Queensland, Australia, and Imperial College London, UK


  • Prof Hugh Possingham (M), Professor, University of Queensland, Australia, and Imperial College London, UK

Invited Speakers

  • Prof. Doug Armstrong, Massey University and Oceania Chair of the IUCN SSC Reintroduction Specialist Group, Perspectives on the new IUCN guidelines and addressing the impact of climate change
  • Dr Tracy Rout, University of Queensland, When should we move species? A cost-benefit approach to decision-making
  • Stefano Canessa, University of Melbourne, Risk attitude and decision-making in assisted colonisation
  • Dr Nicola Mitchell, University of Western Australia, Case study: optimising translocation site selection using mechanistic models for the western swamp tortoise
  • Dr Alienor Chauvenet, University of Queensland, Case study: planning future translocations of an endangered passerine- management success, climate change and assisted colonisation
  • Dr Anna Eklöf, Linköping University, What can we learn from invasion biology for assessing the risks of assisted colonisation?

Assisted colonisation (also known as assisted migration and managed relocation) has the potential to be an incredibly useful management strategy to combat climate change. Defined as the “intentional movement and release of an organism outside its indigenous range to avoid extinction of populations of the focal species” (IUCN/SSC 2013), it is part of the conservation introduction toolkit. The IUCN guidelines for reintroductions and other conservation translocations (IUCN/SSC 2013) provide requirements for assessing the need and feasibility, planning and implementing assisted colonisation. These are to be met using clear, transparent, and explicit decision-making frameworks. Our plenary speaker will be giving an overview of the field of decision-making, and show how relevant it is to translocations under climate change (Prof Hugh Possingham). Prof Doug Armstrong, the Oceania Chair for the IUCN SSC Reintroduction Specialist Group will give his perspective on the new IUCN guidelines with regard to addressing the impact of climate change. This will be followed by theoretical and applied case studies: on how a cost-benefit approach can be used to decide which species to move (Dr Tracy Rout); on how risk attitude influences decision-making for assisted colonisation (Stefano Canessa); on how to optimise translocation site selection using mechanistic models (Dr Nicola Mitchell); on whether in-situ management can buffer the impact of climate change, and making decisions for future translocations under climate change (Dr Alienor Chauvenet); and finally, on what we can learn from invasion biology and food web theory for assessing the risks of assisted colonisation (Dr Anna Eklöf). Additional presentations may be considered if they meet the objectives of the theme session.

Our overarching objectives for convening this session are:

  • To bring together experts on decision-making and assisted colonisation in order to discuss the key issues and how they are being addressed
  • Explore different facets of decision-making for assisted colonisation, from expert-solicitation and structured decision-making to complex modelling approaches, and how they can be combined
  • Synthesise the state-of-the-art of decision-making for assisted colonisation, and highlight ways forward for this management strategy

Theme 12

Species interactions and community dynamics in novel assemblages


  • Dr Adriana Vergés, Sydney Institute of Marine Science, Evolution & Ecology Research Centre, School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences, UNSW Sydney
  • Associate Professor Thomas Wernberg, UWA Oceans Institute & School of Plant Biology
  • Dr Anthony I. Dell, National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC), Illinois, U.S.A


  • Dr Adriana Vergés, Sydney Institute of Marine Science, Evolution & Ecology Research Centre, School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences, UNSW Sydney

Invited Speakers

  • Associate Professor Thomas Wernberg, UWA Oceans Institute & School of Plant Biology
  • Professor John Pandolfi, ARC Centre for excellence for Coral Reef Studies, University of Queensland

Species interactions are key ecological and evolutionary processes that regulate nutrient fluxes and determine the structure and function of ecological communities. This session will focus on changes to species interactions and the development of novel assemblages that result when species that have evolved in isolation from one another come into contact through climate-mediated range-shifts, the arrival of invasive species or intentional introductions/relocations (e.g. for conservation or production). More specifically, this session will serve as a platform to report on:

  • The effects of climate change drivers (e.g. warming/ acidification/ extreme events) on existing and novel species interactions and community dynamics
  • Predicting ecosystem level responses to species introductions and (local) extinctions
  • Species interactions and community dynamics in biogeographic transition zones