Ecology, Earth System Science & Global Change Biology
Across a wide and rapidly growing range of taxa and ecosystems, researchers have described contemporary shifts in species distributions. Both at a broad, cross-taxa perspective and for individual case studies, many of these shifts are consistent with changes in climate. We know, however, that reality is both more interesting and more complicated. Other factors, including anthropogenic management such as harvest and land use change; release of invasive species into new habitats; changing interactions between species within and among different trophic levels; large-scale disturbance (e.g. phytoplankton blooms, insect outbreaks); and perturbations to natural processes to which species are adapted (e.g. fire suppression) can also cause shifts in species ranges. The potential for each of these to interact with climate change raises a set of important questions. How do the cumulative effects of climate and other stressors act to facilitate or impede species’ abilities to shift their distributions? How can we tease apart the relative contributions of climate and other factors to species range shifts? How can we use a cumulative impacts perspective to develop a next generation of species distribution forecasts? And how can this science lead improved conservation management? This symposium will focus on exploring and synthesizing answers to these questions across ecosystems and across taxa from mountains to oceans.
The symposium will be structured around three axes: 1) synthesizing across timescales from the fossil record to future projections, 2) scaling from individuals to landscapes, and 3) transferring knowledge from basic science to conservation applications. Blois and Angert anchor the timescales axis with paleoecological and evolutionary perspectives, while Pinsky provides a forward-looking perspective. Jankowski and Thomas represent the small- and large-scale ends of the scaling axis, respectively, with Wolf also examining landscape scales. Blois, Jankowski, and Angert focus on basic science end of the spectrum, while Thomas and Pinsky have more applied goals. The speakers will be arranged as listed above, starting in deeper time and basic science while building towards contemporary and applied perspectives.
The ultimate goal is to highlight fundamentally similar processes underlying cumulative impacts on species range shifts across this wide range of ecosystems and perspectives, while also acknowledging those factors that make each system unique. New views on physiological ecology, the dynamics of species interactions, dispersal processes, and evolutionary forces provide some of the themes that we expect will emerge from this symposium. We also expect to highlight new methodological advances to allow the study of cumulative impacts in other systems, including mechanistic modeling and Bayesian statistical methods.