As Earth’s climate rapidly changes, species range shifts are considered key to species persistence. However, some range-shifting species will alter community structure and ecosystem processes. By adapting existing invasion risk assessment frameworks, we can identify characteristics shared with high-impact introductions and thus predict potential impacts. There are fundamental differences between introduced and range-shifting species, primarily shared evolutionary histories between range shifters and their new community. Nevertheless, impacts can occur via analogous mechanisms, such as wide dispersal, community disturbance and low biotic resistance. As ranges shift in response to climate change, we have an opportunity to develop plans to facilitate advantageous movements and limit those that are problematic.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $4.92 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
IPCC Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability (eds Field, C. B. et al.) (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2014).
Parmesan, C. & Yohe, G. A globally coherent fingerprint of climate change impacts across natural systems. Nature 421, 37–42 (2003).
Sorte, C. J. B., Williams, S. L. & Carlton, J. T. Marine range shifts and species introductions: comparative spread rates and community impacts. Glob. Ecol. Biogeogr. 19, 303–316 (2010).
Chen, I.-C., Hill, J. K., Ohlemüller, R., Roy, D. B. & Thomas, C. D. Rapid range shifts of species associated with high levels of climate warming. Science 333, 1024–1026 (2011).
Pecl, G. T. et al. Biodiversity redistribution under climate change: impacts on ecosystems and human well-being. Science 355, eaai9214 (2017).
Lipton, D. et al. in Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II (eds Reidmiller, D. R. et al.) Ch. 7 (U. S. Global Change Research Program, 2018).
Hoegh-Guldberg, O. et al. Assisted colonization and rapid climate change. Science 321, 345–346 (2008).
Dawson, T. P., Jackson, S. T., House, J. I., Prentice, I. C. & Mace, G. M. Beyond predictions: biodiversity conservation in a changing climate. Science 332, 53–58 (2011).
Hodgson, J. A., Thomas, C. D., Wintle, B. A. & Moilanen, A. Climate change, connectivity and conservation decision making: back to basics. J. Appl. Ecol. 46, 964–969 (2009).
Nackley, L. L., West, A. G., Skowno, A. L. & Bond, W. J. The nebulous ecology of native invasions. Trends Ecol. Evol. 32, 814–824 (2017).
McLachlan, J. S., Hellmann, J. J. & Schwartz, M. W. Framework for debate of assisted migration in an era of climate change. Conserv. Biol. 21, 297–302 (2007).
Bonebrake, T. C. et al. Managing consequences of climate-driven species redistribution requires integration of ecology, conservation and social science. Biol. Rev. 93, 284–305 (2018).
Hargreaves, A. L., Samis, K. E. & Eckert, C. G. Are species’ range limits simply niche limits writ large? A review of transplant experiments beyond the range. Am. Nat. 183, 157–173 (2014).
Post, E. Ecology of Climate Change (Princeton Univ. Press, 2013).
Gilman, S. E., Urban, M. C., Tewksbury, J., Gilchrist, G. W. & Holt, R. D. A framework for community interactions under climate change. Trends Ecol. Evol. 25, 325–331 (2010).
Wallingford, P. D. & Sorte, C. J. B. Community regulation models as a framework for direct and indirect effects of climate change on species distributions. Ecosphere 10, e02790 (2019).
Harley, C. D. G. Climate change, keystone predation, and biodiversity loss. Science 334, 1124–1127 (2011).
Williamson, M. & Fitter, A. The varying success of invaders. Ecology 77, 1661–1666 (1996).
Jeschke, J. M. & Strayer, D. L. Invasion success of vertebrates in Europe and North America. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 102, 7198–7202 (2005).
Simberloff, D., Souza, L., Nuñez, M. A., Barrios-Garcia, M. N. & Bunn, W. The natives are restless, but not often and mostly when disturbed. Ecology 93, 598–607 (2012).
Keane, R. M. & Crawley, M. J. Exotic plant invasions and the enemy release hypothesis. Trends Ecol. Evol. 17, 164–170 (2002).
Pyšek, P. & Richardson, D. M. in Biological Invasions (Ed. Nentwig, W.) 97–125 (Springer, 2008).
Catford, J. A., Jansson, R. & Nilsson, C. Reducing redundancy in invasion ecology by integrating hypotheses into a single theoretical framework. Divers. Distrib. 15, 22–40 (2009).
Colautti, R. I., Grigorovich, I. A. & MacIsaac, H. J. Propagule pressure: a null model for biological invasions. Biol. Invasions 8, 1023–1037 (2006).
Leung, B. et al. TEASIng apart alien species risk assessments: a framework for best practices. Ecol. Lett. 15, 1475–1493 (2012).
Coutts, S. R., Helmstedt, K. J. & Bennett, J. R. Invasion lags: the stories we tell ourselves and our inability to infer process from pattern. Divers. Distrib. 24, 244–251 (2018).
Lockwood, J. L., Cassey, P. & Blackburn, T. The role of propagule pressure in explaining species invasions. Trends Ecol. Evol. 20, 223–228 (2005).
Ricciardi, A. & Simberloff, D. Assisted colonization is not a viable conservation strategy. Trends Ecol. Evol. 24, 248–253 (2009).
Szűcs, M. et al. Rapid adaptive evolution in novel environments acts as an architect of population range expansion. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 114, 13501–13506 (2017).
Dale, V. H. et al. Climate change and forest disturbances. Bioscience 51, 723–734 (2001).
Thomas, C. D. Climate, climate change and range boundaries. Divers. Distrib. 16, 488–495 (2010).
Battisti, A. et al. Expansion of geographic range in the pine processionary moth caused by increased winter temperatures. Ecol. Appl. 15, 2084–2096 (2005).
Raffa, K. F., Powell, E. N. & Townsend, P. A. Temperature-driven range expansion of an irruptive insect heightened by weakly coevolved plant defenses. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 110, 2193–2198 (2013).
Lesk, C., Coffel, E., D’Amato, A. W., Dodds, K. & Horton, R. Threats to North American forests from southern pine beetle with warming winters. Nat. Clim. Change 7, 713–717 (2017).
Dukes, J. S. et al. Responses of insect pests, pathogens, and invasive plant species to climate change in the forests of northeastern North America: what can we predict? Can. J. For. Res. 39, 231–248 (2009).
Berg, E. E., David Henry, J., Fastie, C. L., De Volder, A. D. & Matsuoka, S. M. Spruce beetle outbreaks on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, and Kluane National Park and Reserve, Yukon Territory: relationship to summer temperatures and regional differences in disturbance regimes. For. Ecol. Manage. 227, 219–232 (2006).
Weed, A. S., Ayres, M. P. & Hicke, J. A. Consequences of climate change for biotic disturbances in North American forests. Ecol. Monogr. 83, 441–470 (2013).
Rice, S. K., Westerman, B. & Federici, R. Impacts of the exotic, nitrogen-fixing black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) on nitrogen-cycling in a pine–oak ecosystem. Plant Ecol. 174, 97–107 (2004).
McCarthy-Neumann, S. & Ibáñez, I. Tree range expansion may be enhanced by escape from negative plant-soil feedbacks. Ecology 93, 2637–2649 (2012).
Iverson, L. R., Prasad, A. M., Matthews, S. N. & Peters, M. Estimating potential habitat for 134 eastern US tree species under six climate scenarios. For. Ecol. Manage. 254, 390–406 (2008).
Ramos JE, Pecl GT, Moltschaniwskyj NA, Strugnell JM, León RI, S. J. Body size, growth and life span: Implications for the polewards range shift of Octopus tetricus in south-eastern Australia. PLoS ONE 9, E103480 (2014).
Hoving, H.-J. T. et al. Extreme plasticity in life-history strategy allows a migratory predator (jumbo squid) to cope with a changing climate. Glob. Chang. Biol. 19, 2089–2103 (2013).
Ramos, J. E. et al. Reproductive capacity of a marine species (Octopus tetricus) within a recent range extension area. Mar. Freshw. Res. 66, 999–1008 (2015).
Sunday, J. M. et al. Species traits and climate velocity explain geographic range shifts in an ocean-warming hotspot. Ecol. Lett. 18, 944–953 (2015).
Estrada, A., Morales-Castilla, I., Caplat, P. & Early, R. Usefulness of species traits in predicting range shifts. Trends Ecol. Evol. 31, 190–203 (2016).
Ramos, J. E. et al. Population genetic signatures of a climate change driven marine range extension. Sci. Rep. 8, 9558 (2018).
Fridley, J. D. & Sax, D. F. The imbalance of nature: revisiting a Darwinian framework for invasion biology. Glob. Ecol. Biogeogr. 23, 1157–1166 (2014).
Cox, J. G. & Lima, S. L. Naivete and an aquatic-terrestrial dichotomy in the effects of introduced predators. Trends Ecol. Evol. 21, 674–680 (2006).
HilleRisLambers, J., Harsch, M. A., Ettinger, A. K., Ford, K. R. & Theobald, E. J. How will biotic interactions influence climate change-induced range shifts? Ann. NY Acad. Sci. 1297, 112–125 (2013).
Engelkes, T. et al. Successful range-expanding plants experience less above-ground and below-ground enemy impact. Nature 456, 946–948 (2008).
Katz, D. S. W. & Ibáñez, I. Foliar damage beyond species distributions is partly explained by distance dependent interactions with natural enemies. Ecology 97, 2331–2341 (2016).
Frainer, A. et al. Climate-driven changes in functional biogeography of Arctic marine fish communities. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 114, 12202–12207 (2017).
King, D. A., Bachelet, D. M. & Symstad, A. J. Climate change and fire effects on a prairie-woodland ecotone: projecting species range shifts with a dynamic global vegetation model. Ecol. Evol. 3, 5076–5097 (2013).
Vergés, A. et al. Tropical rabbitfish and the deforestation of a warming temperate sea. J. Ecol. 102, 1518–1527 (2014).
Wernberg, T. et al. Climate-driven regime shift of a temperate marine ecosystem. Science 353, 169–172 (2016).
Vergés, A. et al. Long-term empirical evidence of ocean warming leading to tropicalization of fish communities, increased herbivory, and loss of kelp. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 113, 13791–13796 (2016).
Clavel, J., Julliard, R. & Devictor, V. Worldwide decline of specialist species: toward a global functional homogenization? Front. Ecol. Environ. 9, 222–228 (2011).
Gurevitch, J. & Padilla, D. K. Are invasive species a major cause of extinctions? Trends Ecol. Evol. 19, 470–474 (2004).
Levine, J. M., Adler, P. B. & Yelenik, S. G. A meta-analysis of biotic resistance to exotic plant invasions. Ecol. Lett. 7, 975–989 (2004).
Sakai, A. K. et al. The population biology of invasive species. Annu. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 32, 305–332 (2001).
Carey, M. P., Sanderson, B. L., Barnas, K. A. & Olden, J. D. Native invaders – challenges for science, management, policy, and society. Front. Ecol. Environ. 10, 373–381 (2012).
Wood, C. M., Witham, J. W. & Hunter, M. L. Climate-driven range shifts are stochastic processes at a local level: two flying squirrel species in Maine. Ecosphere 7, e01240 (2016).
Garroway, C. J. et al. Climate change induced hybridization in flying squirrels. Glob. Chang. Biol. 16, 113–121 (2010).
Krichbaum, K. & Mahan, C. G. Steele, M. a, Turner, G. & Hudson, P. J. The potential role of Strongyloides robustus on parasite-mediated competition between two species of flying squirrels (Glaucomys). J. Wildl. Dis. 46, 229–235 (2010).
Kennedy-Slaney, L., Bowman, J., Walpole, A. A. & Pond, B. A. Northward bound: the distribution of white-tailed deer in Ontario under a changing climate. J. Wildl. Res. 45, 220–228 (2018).
Weiskopf, S. R., Ledee, O. E. & Thompson, L. M. Climate change effects on deer and moose in the midwest. J. Wildl. Manage. 83, 769–781 (2019).
Tape, K. D., Gustine, D. D., Ruess, R. W., Adams, L. G. & Clark, J. A. Range expansion of moose in arctic Alaska linked to warming and increased shrub habitat. PLoS ONE 11, e0152636 (2016).
Richardson, D. M. Ecology and Biogeography of Pinus (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1998).
Ling, S. D., Johnson, C. R., Ridgway, K., Hobday, A. J. & Haddon, M. Climate-driven range extension of a sea urchin: inferring future trends by analysis of recent population dynamics. Glob. Chang. Biol. 15, 719–731 (2009).
Ling, S. D. et al. Global regime shift dynamics of catastrophic sea urchin overgrazing. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. B Biol. Sci. 370, 20130269 (2015).
Strain, E. & Johnson, C. R. Competition between an invasive urchin and commercially fished abalone: effect on body condition, reproduction and survivorship. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 377, 169–182 (2009).
Bradley, B. A. et al. Disentangling the abundance-impact relationship for invasive species. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 116, 9919–9924 (2019).
Blackburn, T. M. et al. A unified classification of alien species based on the magnitude of their environmental impacts. PLoS Biol. 12, e1001850 (2014).
Greenwood, S. & Jump, A. S. Consequences of treeline shifts for the diversity and function of high altitude ecosystems. Arctic Antarct. Alp. Res. 46, 829–840 (2014).
Lenoir, J. & Svenning, J. C. Climate-related range shifts – a global multidimensional synthesis and new research directions. Ecography 38, 15–28 (2015).
Wagg, C., Bender, S. F., Widmer, F. & van der Heijden, M. G. A. Soil biodiversity and soil community composition determine ecosystem multifunctionality. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 111, 5266–5270 (2014).
Angelo, C. L. & Daehler, C. C. Upward expansion of fire-adapted grasses along a warming tropical elevation gradient. Ecography 36, 551–559 (2013).
Filbee-Dexter, K. Sea urchin barrens as alternative stable states of collapsed kelp ecosystems. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 495, 1–25 (2014).
Demopoulos, A. & Smith, C. Invasive mangroves alter macrofaunal community structure and facilitate opportunistic exotics. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 404, 51–67 (2010).
Osland, M. J., Enwright, N., Day, R. H. & Doyle, T. W. Winter climate change and coastal wetland foundation species: salt marshes vs. mangrove forests in the southeastern United States. Glob. Chang. Biol. 19, 1482–1494 (2013).
Bolser, R. C. & Hay, M. E. Are tropical plants better defended? Palatability and defenses of temperate vs. tropical seaweeds. Ecology 77, 2269–2286 (1996).
Burkepile, D. E. & Hay, M. E. Herbivore species richness and feeding complementarity affect community structure and function on a coral reef. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 105, 16201–16206 (2008).
Borer, E. T. et al. Global biogeography of autotroph chemistry: is insolation a driving force? Oikos 122, 1121–1130 (2013).
Silliman, B. R. et al. Consumer fronts, global change, and runaway collapse in ecosystems. Annu. Rev. Ecol. Evol. Syst. 44, 503–538 (2013).
Campbell, A. H., Vergés, A. & Steinberg, P. D. Demographic consequences of disease in a habitat-forming seaweed and impacts on interactions between natural enemies. Ecology 95, 142–152 (2014).
Vilà, M. et al. Ecological impacts of invasive alien plants: a meta-analysis of their effects on species, communities and ecosystems. Ecol. Lett. 14, 702–708 (2011).
Hawkins, C. L. et al. Framework and guidelines for implementing the proposed IUCN Environmental Impact Classification for Alien Taxa (EICAT). Divers. Distrib. 21, 1360–1363 (2015).
Scheffers, B. R. & Pecl, G. Persecuting, protecting or ignoring biodiversity under climate change. Nat. Clim. Change 9, 581–586 (2019).
Stein, B. A. et al. Preparing for and managing change: climate adaptation for biodiversity and ecosystems. Front. Ecol. Environ. 11, 502–510 (2013).
Kreyling, J. et al. Assisted colonization: a question of focal units and recipient localities. Restor. Ecol. 19, 433–440 (2011).
Filbee-Dexter, K. et al. Ecological surprise: concept, synthesis, and social dimensions. Ecosphere 8, e02005 (2017).
Pimentel, D., Zuniga, R. & Morrison, D. Update on the environmental and economic costs associated with alien-invasive species in the United States. Ecol. Econ. 52, 273–288 (2005).
Richardson, D. M. et al. Multidimensional evaluation of managed relocation. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 106, 9721–9724 (2009).
Vilà, M. et al. A review of impact assessment protocols of non-native plants. Biol. Invasions 21, 709–723 (2019).
Garibaldi, A. & Turner, N. Cultural keystone species: implications for ecological conservation and restoration. Ecol. Soc. 9, 1 (2004).
Enquist, C. A. F. et al. Foundations of translational ecology. Front. Ecol. Environ. 15, 541–550 (2017).
Myers, N., Mittermeier, R. A., Mittermeier, C. G., da Fonseca, G. A. B. & Kent, J. Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403, 853–858 (2000).
Ibáñez, I., Silander, J. A. Jr, Allen, J. M., Treanor, S. A. & Wilson, A. Identifying hotspots for plant invasions and forecasting focal points of further spread. J. Appl. Ecol. 46, 1219–1228 (2009).
Allen, J. M. & Bradley, B. A. Out of the weeds? Reduced plant invasion risk with climate change in the continental United States. Biol. Conserv. 203, 306–312 (2016).
Pereyra, P. J. Rethinking the native range concept. Conserv. Biol. 34, 373–377 (2019).
Raymond, C. M. et al. Integrating local and scientific knowledge for environmental management. J. Environ. Manage. 91, 1766–1777 (2010).
Hutchins, L. W. The bases for temperature zonation in geographical distribution. Ecol. Monogr. 17, 325–335 (1947).
Araújo, M. B. & Pearson, R. G. Equilibrium of species’ distributions with climate. Ecography 28, 693–695 (2005).
Zarnetske, P. L., Skelly, D. K. & Urban, M. C. Biotic multipliers of climate change. Science 336, 1516–1518 (2012).
Barnosky, A. D. et al. Has the Earth’s sixth mass extinction already arrived? Nature 471, 51–57 (2011).
Blois, J. L., Zarnetske, P. L., Fitzpatrick, M. C. & Finnegan, S. Climate change and the past, present, and future of biotic interactions. Science 341, 499–504 (2013).
Wilmers, C. C. & Getz, W. M. Gray wolves as climate change buffers in Yellowstone. PLoS Biol. 3, e92 (2005).
Wilmers, C. C. & Post, E. Predicting the influence of wolf-provided carrion on scavenger community dynamics under climate change scenarios. Glob. Chang. Biol. 12, 403–409 (2006).
Gedan, K. B., Silliman, B. R. & Bertness, M. D. Centuries of human-driven change in salt marsh ecosystems. Ann. Rev. Mar. Sci 1, 117–141 (2009).
Williams, J. W. & Jackson, S. T. Novel climates, no-analog communities, and ecological surprises. Front. Ecol. Environ. 5, 475–482 (2007).
Tylianakis, J. M., Laliberté, E., Nielsen, A. & Bascompte, J. Conservation of species interaction networks. Biol. Conserv. 143, 2270–2279 (2010).
Gallina, S. & Lopez Arevalo, H. Odocoileus virginianus (The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, accessed 7 March 2020); https://doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-2.RLTS.T42394A22162580.en
Hundertmark, K. Alces alces (The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016, accessed 7 March 2020); https://doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T56003281A22157381.en
Gunn, A. Rangifer tarandus (The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016, accessed 7 March 2020); https://doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T29742A22167140.en
This work was initiated at a working group led by C.J.B.S., B.A.B., A.E.B., and R.E. and was supported by the Albert and Elaine Borchard Foundation. We thank R. Whitlock for his insight during initial discussions, V. Pasquarella for her comments on an early draft, and C. Millar and J. McMullen who provided valuable feedback. Funding for this project was provided in the form of a University of Michigan catalyst grant to I.I., and from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station, the U.S. Geological Survey Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center and the Department of Environmental Conservation under Project Number MAS00033 to B.A.B. Any use of trade, firm or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.
The authors declare no competing interests.
Peer review information Nature Climate Change thanks I-Ching Chen, Jorge E. Ramos and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Wallingford, P.D., Morelli, T.L., Allen, J.M. et al. Adjusting the lens of invasion biology to focus on the impacts of climate-driven range shifts. Nat. Clim. Chang. 10, 398–405 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-020-0768-2
Trends in Ecology & Evolution (2021)
Coasting along to a wider range: niche conservatism in the recent range expansion of the Tawny Coster, Acraea terpsicore (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae)
Diversity and Distributions (2021)
Commentary on Osland et al.: Tropicalization of temperate ecosystems in North America: The northward range expansion of tropical organisms in response to warming winter temperatures
Global Change Biology (2021)
Onward but not always upward: individualistic elevational shifts of tree species in subtropical montane forests
Climate and land use changes shift the distribution and dispersal of two umbrella species in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region
Science of The Total Environment (2021)