Niche dynamics in space and time. Trends Ecol Evol

University of Lausanne, Department of Ecology and Evolution, Lausanne, Switzerland.
Trends in Ecology & Evolution (Impact Factor: 16.2). 04/2008; 23(3):149-58. DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2007.11.005
Source: PubMed


Niche conservatism, the tendency of a species niche to remain unchanged over time, is often assumed when discussing, explaining or predicting biogeographical patterns. Unfortunately, there has been no basis for predicting niche dynamics over relevant timescales, from tens to a few hundreds of years. The recent application of species distribution models (SDMs) and phylogenetic methods to analysis of niche characteristics has provided insight to niche dynamics. Niche shifts and conservatism have both occurred within the last 100 years, with recent speciation events, and deep within clades of species. There is increasing evidence that coordinated application of these methods can help to identify species which likely fulfill one key assumption in the predictive application of SDMs: an unchanging niche. This will improve confidence in SDM-based predictions of the impacts of climate change and species invasions on species distributions and biodiversity.

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Available from: Peter B Pearman
    • "However, the relative importance of these factors during diversification remains largely unknown. The integration of ecological modeling and biogeographic and phylogenetic analyses allows for comparative analyses of niche evolution across broad spatial scales, which can provide insight into the relationship between ecological differentiation and diversification across large taxonomic groups181920. The fish family Poeciliidae has risen as a prominent model for investigating phenotypic evolution and speciation in response to sexual selection[21,22]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Ecological factors often have a strong impact on spatiotemporal patterns of biodiversity. The integration of spatial ecology and phylogenetics allows for rigorous tests of whether speciation is associated with niche conservatism (constraints on ecological divergence) or niche divergence. We address this question in a genus of livebearing fishes for which the role of sexual selection in speciation has long been studied, but in which the potential role of ecological divergence during speciation has not been tested. Results: By combining reconstruction of ancestral climate tolerances and disparity indices, we show that the earliest evolutionary split in Xiphophorus was associated with significant divergence for temperature variables. Niche evolution and present day niches were most closely associated with each species’ geographic distribution relative to a biogeographic barrier, the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt. Tests for similarity of the environmental backgrounds of closely related species suggested that the relative importance of niche conservatism and divergence during speciation varied among the primary clades of Xiphophorus. Closely related species in the two swordtail clades exhibited higher levels of niche overlap than expected given environmental background similarity indicative of niche conservatism. In contrast, almost all species of platyfish had significantly divergent niches compared to environmental backgrounds, which is indicative of niche divergence. Conclusion: The results suggest that the relative importance of niche conservatism and divergence differed among the clades of Xiphophorus and that traits associated with niche evolution may be more evolutionarily labile in the platyfishes. Our results ultimately suggest that the taxonomic scale of tests for conservatism and divergence could greatly influence inferences of their relative importance in the speciation process.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · BMC Evolutionary Biology
    • "However, climate is not the only driver of species distribution and the same species can have various environmental requirements within its distributional range (Diekmann & Lawesson, 1999, Coudun & Gégout, 2005). These distributional differences are mostly driven by interactions with other species and local adaptations leading to spatial and temporal heterogeneity in realized species niche (Silvertown, 2004; Pearman et al., 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: Ongoing climate change is expected to shift tree species distribution and therefore affect forest biodiversity and ecosystem services. To assess and project tree distributional shifts, researchers may compare the distribution of juvenile and adult trees under the assumption that differences between tree life-stages reflect distributional shifts triggered by climate change. However, the distribution of tree life-stages could differ within the lifespan of trees, therefore we hypothesize that currently observed distributional differences could represent shifts over ontogeny as opposed to climatically driven changes. Here we test this hypothesis with data from 1435 plots resurveyed after more than three decades across the Western Carpathians. We compared seedling, sapling and adult distribution of 12 tree species along elevation, temperature and precipitation gradients. We analyzed i) temporal shifts between the surveys and ii) distributional differences between tree life-stages within both surveys. Despite climate warming, tree species distribution of any life-stage did not shift directionally upward along elevation between the surveys. Temporal elevational shifts were species-specific and an order of magnitude lower than differences among tree life-stages within the surveys. Our results show that the observed range shifts among tree life-stages are more consistent with ontogenetic differences in the species' environmental requirements than with responses to recent climate change. The distribution of seedlings substantially differed from saplings and adults, while the distribution of saplings did not differ from adults, indicating a critical transition between seedling and sapling tree life-stages. Future research has to take ontogenetic differences among life-stages into account as we found that distributional differences recently observed worldwide may not reflect climate change but rather the different environmental requirements of tree life-stages.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Global Change Biology
    • "Environmental drivers of megafaunal extinctions Nogués-Bravo et al. 2008, Varela et al. 2010, Lorenzen et al. 2012 Species invasions Dudei & Stigall 2010, Malizia & Stigall 2011 Speciation and extinction patterns Maguire & Stigall 2009, Stigall 2013 Survival risk Stigall Rode & Lieberman 2005 Niche stability Martinéz Meyer et al. 2004, Pearman et al. 2008a, Veloz et al. 2012, Worth et al. 2014 Niche conservatism Peterson & Nyári 2007, Rodríguez-Sánchez & Arroyo 2008 Assemblage: used interchangeably with community to indicate a group comprising multiple species from a particular place and time Niche stability: a species niche space remains similar through ecological or evolutionary time and paleoclimatic data with observations of, for example, species traits, phylogeny, or gene frequencies (e.g., Lorenzen et al. 2012, Fordham et al. 2014, Metcalf et al. 2014). "
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    ABSTRACT: There is an urgent need to understand species and community responses to climatic and ecological changes to predict biodiversity patterns given anticipated global change. The current distribution of species and the environment provide a limited perspective to study and predict ecological responses; therefore, biodiversitv responses to past environmental changes must be examined The rapid development of ecological niche models (ENMs) and their use in reconstructing past species distributions has facilitated inclusion of past observations into predictive models. Paleodata offer an opportunity to test the predictive ability of ENMs and their underlying assumptions. However, paleodata remain underutilized despite the rapidly growing field of paleoinformatics. New modeling methods that incorporate species associations, coupled with paleodata, provide more robust approaches to studying species and community responses, especially given the predicted emergence of no-analog climates and communities in the future.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2015 · Annual Review of Ecology Evolution and Systematics
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