Climate invader or refugee? Evaluating ecological impacts of species redistribution

Cascade Sorte

Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine, USA


Shifts in species distributions was one of the first recognized “fingerprints” of climate change effects on natural ecosystems, and range shifts have now been documented for hundreds of species across virtually all taxa and ecosystems. While redistribution may be a climate change “coping mechanism” for some species, the spread of non-native species can also be problematic because of negative impacts on recipient communities. In fact, these impacts of shifting native species can be similar in direction and magnitude to those of non-native species invasions. Given that both climate change and invasive species are primary drivers of global biodiversity loss, this means that the redistribution of native species can drive cascading impacts of climate change. Range shifting species are likely to have greater impacts when they (1) share resources (compete) with, use as resources (consume), or become (prey) resources for species in the recipient community, (2) co-occur spatially with potentially interacting species, and (3) have strong interaction strengths as compared to native inhabitants. I use results of a meta-analysis and local case studies to illustrate how understanding resource use, spatial overlap and interaction strength could be used to predict whether the outcome of a species’ redistribution is more similar to peaceful coexistence or hostile takeover.

Species on the Move

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The conference brings together scientists and natural resource managers working in the disciplines of global change, biogeography and evolution, and relevant in contexts of natural resource management, biodiversity management and conservation, and theoretical ecology.

Species responses to climate change is a rapidly evolving research field, however, much of our progress is being made in independent research areas: e.g. understanding the process vs responding to the implications, terrestrial vs marine ecosystems, global meta-analyses vs in depth species-specific approaches. This interdisciplinary conference develops connections between these parallel streams, and across temporal and spatial scales.

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