Using past rates of climatic niche change to predict species current response to climate change

Luana Bourgeaud1, Lise Comte2, Jérôme Murienne1, Jonathan Lenoir3, Romain Bertrand4, Tarek Hattab5, Gaël Grenouillet1

1Laboratoire Evolution et Diversité Biologique (EDB), UMR5174 Université Toulouse III Paul Sabatier, CNRS, IRD, Toulouse, France, 2School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, USA, 3UR Ecologie et Dynamique des Systèmes Anthropisés (EDYSAN), UMR7058 CNRS, Université de Picardie Jules Verne, Amiens, France, 4Centre for Biodiversity Theory and Modelling, Theoretical and Experimental Ecology Station, UMR5321 CNRS, Université Toulouse III, Moulis, France, 5MARBEC, Université de Montpellier, CNRS, Ifremer, IRD, Sète, France


Range shifts in response to climate change have been increasingly documented across taxa and ecosystems. Although species facing climate change are expected to follow their climatic niche, a great variety of shift direction and intensity has been observed which limits our ability to predict species vulnerability to future changes. Dispersal may not be an option for many species and change in species climatic niche will therefore be determinant. To understand how much species current climatic niche can change, authors have started to investigate past rates of climatic niche change. Yet, whether past rates of climatic niche change can actually be used to estimate species adaptive capacity remains to be tested. We propose to evaluate the potential of past rates of climatic niche change in predicting species current range shifts. Our work is based on an extensive database building that gathers contemporary range shifts (poleward and upslope) for over 12,000 species spread across the globe and the tree of life. For several taxa, we combined climatic data with data on species distributional range to estimate species current climatic niche. We then derived rates of climatic niche change for each species using the most recent time-calibrated phylogenies. Finally, we tested the relationship between past rate of climatic niche evolution and current range shift.


Luana Bourgeaud is doing a phD supervised by Gaël Grenouillet and Jérôme Murienne in the laboratoire ‘Evolution et Diversité Biologique’ at the University of Toulouse in France.

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