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Climate-induced range overlap among closely related species



Contemporary climate change is causing large shifts in biotic distributions1, which has the potential to bring previously isolated, closely related species into contact2. This has led to concern that hybridization and competition could threaten species persistence3. Here, we use bioclimatic models to show that future range overlap by the end of the century is predicted for only 6.4% of isolated, congeneric species pairs of New World birds, mammals and amphibians. Projected rates of climate-induced overlap are higher for birds (11.6%) than for mammals (4.4%) or amphibians (3.6%). As many species will have difficulty tracking shifting climates4, actual rates of future overlap are likely to be far lower, suggesting that hybridization and competition impacts may be relatively modest.

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Figure 1: Projected future overlap for isolated, congeneric species of New World birds, mammals and amphibians.
Figure 2: Current geographic range size and proportion of future range in overlap.
Figure 3: The percentage of a species’ future bioclimatic envelope projected to overlap with that of an isolated congener.
Figure 4: The percentage of future range in overlap as a function of future range size.


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This work was completed with financial support from the Wilburforce Foundation, the Doris Duke Foundation, and the Packard Foundation.

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Authors and Affiliations



M.K. conceived the study. M.K., C.B.W., J.M.D., J.L.M., J.A.H., T.M.N., J.J.T. and J.J.L. designed the analysis. C.B.W. and J.M.D. conducted most of the data analysis, with additional analysis completed by J.L.M., T.M.N., J.A.H. and M.K. M.K., J.J.L., J.J.T., C.B.W. and J.M.D. wrote the paper.

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Correspondence to Meade Krosby.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Krosby, M., Wilsey, C., McGuire, J. et al. Climate-induced range overlap among closely related species. Nature Clim Change 5, 883–886 (2015).

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