On-going climate change is forcing species around the world to adjust their geographical distributions. The research field of biogeography has made notable progress during the last decade, developing and refining methods for predicting species’ future geographical ranges based on advanced climate and land-use modelling.
Species on the move - range shifts of ecological communities
However, these types of models are missing an ecologically fundamental feature, namely that species are not the sole actors in ecosystems, but always incorporated in a larger network of interacting species, often conditional their persistence. For a species, or a group of species, to colonize and establish in novel communities, it needs to find its “place” in the new ecological network. Herein lies one of the outstanding challenges for ecological research today - to understand the requirements and mechanisms for a species to be able to successfully track a climatic shift while also be able find its role and establish itself in a novel ecological network. The same problem applies for species capable to adjust to the changed conditions in their original geographical range, but face new species immigrating into the area.