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Range-shifts in a changing climate

A major challenge for ecology is to predict and manage global change impacts on species and eco­systems. One key focus of that research is species’ movement (or stasis), through a shift, expansion, or contraction of their ranges.

We aim to identify the potential for species range-shifts in Sweden, and to assess their consequences on biodiversity. We study different taxa, with an emphasis on birds and trees, for which we have long-term data and great in-house expertise. Indeed, Lund University is the host of the Swedish Breeding Bird Survey (coordinated by Åke Lindström), and is the main development hub of the process-based forest model LPJ-GUESS (Smith et al. 2001).

Bird ecology group

So far, the BECC’s bird ecology group has  identified patterns in the response of species and community to temperature changes (Davey et al. 2013, Lindström et al. 2013,  Davey et al. submit., Wittwer et al. submit.), and started an assessment of the impact of species range-shifts on  biodiversity patterns and productivity of ecosystems (Davey et al. 2013). Current effort is dedicated to

  • developing predictive models of bird distributions (using LPJ-Guess’ predictions on vegetation changes)
  • explaining the patterns in bird response to climate change with species life-history traits
  • assessing how land-use patterns affect the capacity of species to shift their distributions

Vegetation modelling

Vegetation modelling is another active component of BECC effort to study species range-shifts, with an emphasis so far on past distribution changes and how they can inform predictions. Lehsten et al. (2014) simulated the spatial and temporal distribution of two tree species over Europe during the Holocene. Current efforts are dedicated to

  • improve simulation of tree migrations  (e.g. through incorporation of a seed dispersal model within LPJ-GUESS)
  • simulate tree species distribution for future climate and land use scenarios with migration restriction of all tree species in different regions of Europe
  • simulate past tree migration incorporating land-use changes and dispersal constraints
  • assess the impact of climate and land use change on tree species distribution during the Holocene and under future scenarios.

Contact: Åke Lindström, Paul Caplat, Ben Smith