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Geographical range margins of many taxonomic groups continue to shift polewards

Mason, S. C., Palmer, G., Fox, R., Gillings, S., Hill, J. K., Thomas, C. D. and Oliver, T. H. (2015) Geographical range margins of many taxonomic groups continue to shift polewards. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 115 (3). pp. 586-597. ISSN 0024-4066

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/bij.12574


Many species are extending their leading-edge (cool) range margins polewards in response to recent climate change. In the present study, we investigated range margin changes at the northern (cool) range margins of 1573 southerly-distributed species from 21 animal groups in Great Britain over the past four decades of climate change, updating previous work. Depending on data availability, range margin changes were examined over two time intervals during the past four decades. For four groups (birds, butterflies, macromoths, and dragonflies and damselflies), there were sufficient data available to examine range margin changes over both time intervals. We found that most taxa shifted their northern range margins polewards and this finding was not greatly influenced by changes in recorder effort. The mean northwards range margin change in the first time interval was 23 km per decade (N = 13 taxonomic groups) and, in the second interval, was 18 km per decade (N = 16 taxonomic groups) during periods when the British climate warmed by 0.21 and 0.28 °C per decade, respectively. For the four taxa examined over both intervals, there was evidence for higher rate of range margin change in the more recent time interval in the two Lepidoptera groups. Our analyses confirm a continued range margin shift polewards in a wide range of taxonomic groups.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:47874


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