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Climate Research

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CR 35:165-175 (2007)  -  DOI:

The complexity of predicting climate-induced ecological impacts

Karen Mustin1,*, William J. Sutherland2, Jennifer A. Gill3,4

1School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Zoology Building, Tillydrone Avenue, Aberdeen AB24 2TZ, UK
2Department of Zoology, Cambridge University, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK
3School of Biological Sciences, and 4Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK

ABSTRACT: The anticipated future increases in global surface temperatures are likely to have major impacts on the distribution of species. Predicting future species’ distributions is a key area of importance in research, which is largely being addressed through the use of climate envelope models. While climate envelope models may indicate the broad direction of likely changes in distribution, they fail to incorporate the non-climatic factors that are important determinants of species’ distributions within their current range, which may mean that the observed response will differ greatly from these predictions. When considering specific species, these ecological details are likely to be extremely important, but their inclusion in predictive models is difficult. We illustrate the complexities of unravelling climate impacts on species distribution and population size using migratory shorebirds as an example.

KEY WORDS: Distribution · Range size · Population processes · Migration · Shorebirds

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Cite this article as: Mustin K, Sutherland WJ, Gill JA (2007) The complexity of predicting climate-induced ecological impacts. Clim Res 35:165-175.

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