Papers in the Biological Sciences


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McNichol, B.H.; Russo, S.E. Plant Species’ Capacity for Range Shifts at the Habitat and Geographic Scales: A Trade-Off-Based Framework. Plants 2023, 12, 1248. 10.3390/plants12061248


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Climate change is causing rapid shifts in the abiotic and biotic environmental conditions experienced by plant populations, but we lack generalizable frameworks for predicting the consequences for species. These changes may cause individuals to become poorly matched to their environments, potentially inducing shifts in the distributions of populations and altering species’ habitat and geographic ranges. We present a trade-off-based framework for understanding and predicting whether plant species may undergo range shifts, based on ecological strategies defined by functional trait variation. We define a species’ capacity for undergoing range shifts as the product of its colonization ability and the ability to express a phenotype well-suited to the environment across life stages (phenotype–environment matching), which are both strongly influenced by a species’ ecological strategy and unavoidable trade-offs in function. While numerous strategies may be successful in an environment, severe phenotype–environment mismatches result in habitat filtering: propagules reach a site but cannot establish there. Operating within individuals and populations, these processes will affect species’ habitat ranges at small scales, and aggregated across populations, will determine whether species track climatic changes and undergo geographic range shifts. This trade-off-based framework can provide a conceptual basis for species distribution models that are generalizable across plant species, aiding in the prediction of shifts in plant species’ ranges in response to climate change.

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