Do climate envelope models transfer? A manipulative test using dung beetle introductions

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Climate envelope models (CEMs) are widely used to forecast future shifts in species ranges under climate change, but these models are rarely validated against independent data, and their fundamental assumption that climate limits species distributions is rarely tested. Here, we use the data on the introduction of five South African dung beetle species to Australia to test whether CEMs developed in the native range can predict distribution in the introduced range, where the confounding effects of dispersal limitation, resource limitation and the impact of natural enemies have been removed, leaving climate as the dominant constraint. For two of the five species, models developed in the native range predict distribution in the introduced range about as well as models developed in the introduced range where we know climate limits distribution. For the remaining three species, models developed in the native range perform poorly, implying that non-climatic factors limit the native distribution of these species and need to be accounted for in species distribution models. Quantifying relevant non-climatic factors and their likely interactions with climatic variables for forecasting range shifts under climate change remains a challenging task.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1449-1457
Number of pages9
JournalRoyal Society of London. Proceedings B. Biological Sciences
Issue number1661
Early online date25 Feb 2009
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2009


  • bioclimatic envelope, dispersal limitation, range limits, species distribution models

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