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      Climate change and evolutionary adaptation

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      Nature

      Springer Science and Business Media LLC

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          Abstract

          Evolutionary adaptation can be rapid and potentially help species counter stressful conditions or realize ecological opportunities arising from climate change. The challenges are to understand when evolution will occur and to identify potential evolutionary winners as well as losers, such as species lacking adaptive capacity living near physiological limits. Evolutionary processes also need to be incorporated into management programmes designed to minimize biodiversity loss under rapid climate change. These challenges can be met through realistic models of evolutionary change linked to experimental data across a range of taxa.

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          Most cited references 86

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          A globally coherent fingerprint of climate change impacts across natural systems.

          Causal attribution of recent biological trends to climate change is complicated because non-climatic influences dominate local, short-term biological changes. Any underlying signal from climate change is likely to be revealed by analyses that seek systematic trends across diverse species and geographic regions; however, debates within the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reveal several definitions of a 'systematic trend'. Here, we explore these differences, apply diverse analyses to more than 1,700 species, and show that recent biological trends match climate change predictions. Global meta-analyses documented significant range shifts averaging 6.1 km per decade towards the poles (or metres per decade upward), and significant mean advancement of spring events by 2.3 days per decade. We define a diagnostic fingerprint of temporal and spatial 'sign-switching' responses uniquely predicted by twentieth century climate trends. Among appropriate long-term/large-scale/multi-species data sets, this diagnostic fingerprint was found for 279 species. This suite of analyses generates 'very high confidence' (as laid down by the IPCC) that climate change is already affecting living systems.
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            Species Distribution Models: Ecological Explanation and Prediction Across Space and Time

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              Mechanistic niche modelling: combining physiological and spatial data to predict species' ranges.

              Species distribution models (SDMs) use spatial environmental data to make inferences on species' range limits and habitat suitability. Conceptually, these models aim to determine and map components of a species' ecological niche through space and time, and they have become important tools in pure and applied ecology and evolutionary biology. Most approaches are correlative in that they statistically link spatial data to species distribution records. An alternative strategy is to explicitly incorporate the mechanistic links between the functional traits of organisms and their environments into SDMs. Here, we review how the principles of biophysical ecology can be used to link spatial data to the physiological responses and constraints of organisms. This provides a mechanistic view of the fundamental niche which can then be mapped to the landscape to infer range constraints. We show how physiologically based SDMs can be developed for different organisms in different environmental contexts. Mechanistic SDMs have different strengths and weaknesses to correlative approaches, and there are many exciting and unexplored prospects for integrating the two approaches. As physiological knowledge becomes better integrated into SDMs, we will make more robust predictions of range shifts in novel or non-equilibrium contexts such as invasions, translocations, climate change and evolutionary shifts.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature
                Nature
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                0028-0836
                1476-4687
                February 2011
                February 23 2011
                February 2011
                : 470
                : 7335
                : 479-485
                Article
                10.1038/nature09670
                21350480
                © 2011

                http://www.springer.com/tdm

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