Climate change-driven species' range shifts filtered by photoperiodism


Forecasts of species range shifts as a result of climate change are essential, because invasions by exotic species shape biodiversity and therefore ecosystem functions and services. Ecologists have focused on propagule pressure (for example, the number of individuals and invasion events), the characteristics of an invading species, and its new abiotic and biotic environment to predict the likelihood of range expansion and invasion. Here, we emphasize the role of photoperiodic response on the range expansion of species. Unlike temperature, the latitudinal gradient of seasonal changes in day length is a stable, abiotic environmental factor that does not change with local or global climate. Predicting range expansions across latitudes and the subsequent consequences for native communities requires a more comprehensive understanding of how species use day length to coordinate seasonal growth, reproduction, physiology and synchronization of life cycles with interacting individuals and species.

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Figure 1: The effect of latitude on the seasonality of day length.
Figure 2: World climate map demonstrating that comparable climate zones are present at higher latitudes in Western Europe compared with those in North America.


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We thank S. Faeth and I. Saloniemi for invaluable comments on the manuscript and H. Ojanen for preparing the world climate map. This study was funded by the Academy of Finland (project number 137909).

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K.S. led the creation and writing of the paper with inputs from all authors. All authors participated in the literature survey of their expertise (K.S.: climate change, and general ecology and evolution; K.T.: photoperiodism; T.H.: climate change, weeds; P.E.G.: crop species; C.E.H.: crop species; I.V.: pests; A.N.: pests; M.H.: pathogens).

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Correspondence to Kari Saikkonen.

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Saikkonen, K., Taulavuori, K., Hyvönen, T. et al. Climate change-driven species' range shifts filtered by photoperiodism. Nature Clim Change 2, 239–242 (2012).

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