Limited climate tracking in European trees despite 10,000 years of postglacial warmth

06/10/04

The relative roles of environment and history as controls of large-scale species distributions is a crucial issue in biogeography and macroecology.

In the forthcoming issue of Ecology Letters Svenning & Skov use bioclimatic modelling to show that among 55 native European tree species, 36 occupy less than 50% of their climatically suitable range. Many of these species naturalize extensively outside their native ranges, providing support for the conclusion that European tree species ranges are strongly controlled by dispersal limitation despite 10,000 years of relatively stable climate.

In the coming century, the global mean surface temperature is expected to rise an unprecedented 1.4 to 5.8C. Given the limited climate-tracking exhibited by European tree species during the past 10,000 years, the authors warn that we should expect most of them to be unable to track such dramatic climate changes.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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