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      Rapid Range Shifts of Species Associated with High Levels of Climate Warming

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      Science

      American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

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          Abstract

          The distributions of many terrestrial organisms are currently shifting in latitude or elevation in response to changing climate. Using a meta-analysis, we estimated that the distributions of species have recently shifted to higher elevations at a median rate of 11.0 meters per decade, and to higher latitudes at a median rate of 16.9 kilometers per decade. These rates are approximately two and three times faster than previously reported. The distances moved by species are greatest in studies showing the highest levels of warming, with average latitudinal shifts being generally sufficient to track temperature changes. However, individual species vary greatly in their rates of change, suggesting that the range shift of each species depends on multiple internal species traits and external drivers of change. Rapid average shifts derive from a wide diversity of responses by individual species.

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          Most cited references 28

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          A significant upward shift in plant species optimum elevation during the 20th century.

          Spatial fingerprints of climate change on biotic communities are usually associated with changes in the distribution of species at their latitudinal or altitudinal extremes. By comparing the altitudinal distribution of 171 forest plant species between 1905 and 1985 and 1986 and 2005 along the entire elevation range (0 to 2600 meters above sea level) in west Europe, we show that climate warming has resulted in a significant upward shift in species optimum elevation averaging 29 meters per decade. The shift is larger for species restricted to mountain habitats and for grassy species, which are characterized by faster population turnover. Our study shows that climate change affects the spatial core of the distributional range of plant species, in addition to their distributional margins, as previously reported.
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            Poleward shifts in geographical ranges of butterfly species associated with regional warming

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              The distributions of a wide range of taxonomic groups are expanding polewards

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Science
                Science
                American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
                0036-8075
                1095-9203
                August 18 2011
                August 19 2011
                August 18 2011
                August 19 2011
                : 333
                : 6045
                : 1024-1026
                Article
                10.1126/science.1206432
                21852500
                © 2011

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