Species better track climate warming in the oceans than on land

Abstract

There is mounting evidence of species redistribution as climate warms. Yet, our knowledge of the coupling between species range shifts and isotherm shifts remains limited. Here, we introduce BioShifts—a global geo-database of 30,534 range shifts. Despite a spatial imbalance towards the most developed regions of the Northern Hemisphere and a taxonomic bias towards the most charismatic animals and plants of the planet, data show that marine species are better at tracking isotherm shifts, and move towards the pole six times faster than terrestrial species. More specifically, we find that marine species closely track shifting isotherms in warm and relatively undisturbed waters (for example, the Central Pacific Basin) or in cold waters subject to high human pressures (for example, the North Sea). On land, human activities impede the capacity of terrestrial species to track isotherm shifts in latitude, with some species shifting in the opposite direction to isotherms. Along elevational gradients, species follow the direction of isotherm shifts but at a pace that is much slower than expected, especially in areas with warm climates. Our results suggest that terrestrial species are lagging behind shifting isotherms more than marine species, which is probably related to the interplay between the wider thermal safety margin of terrestrial versus marine species and the more constrained physical environment for dispersal in terrestrial versus marine habitats.

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Fig. 1: Taxonomic coverage.
Fig. 2: Sources of variation in species range shifts.
Fig. 3: Mean velocity of species range shifts per taxonomic class.
Fig. 4: Degree of coupling between species range shifts and isotherm shifts.
Fig. 5: Main determinants of the velocity of species range shifts.
Fig. 6: Maps of the degree of coupling between species range shifts and isotherm shifts.

Data availability

The data supporting the findings of this study are available in the BioShifts geo-database in the Figshare digital repository13 available at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7413365.v1.

Code availability

R scripts used in the analyses are available at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.7413365.v1.

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Acknowledgements

We acknowledge the authors who kindly sent us their data on species range shift estimates. In particular, we are thankful to K. Kleisner and C. Hassall, who kindly provided data on behalf of the NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center, The Nature Conservancy, the British Arachnological Society and the Spider Recording Scheme. Finally, we acknowledge grants from the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (TULIP ANR-10-LABX-41 and CEBA ANR-10-LABX-25-01).

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J.L., L.C., J.M. and G.G. initiated and conceived the project idea. L.C. and J.L. built the general structure of the database. G.G., L.C., R.B., T.H. and J.L. reviewed the scientific literature and filled the database throughout the duration of the project. G.G. ensured data curation. L.B. and L.C. carried out the taxonomic harmonization of the database with help from J.M. T.H. linked the taxonomic backbone of the database to the Open Tree of Life (https://tree.opentreeoflife.org) and Catalogue of Life (http://catalogueoflife.org/) to produce a visualization of the phylogenetic coverage of the database. G.G., L.C., J.L. and R.B. prepared the set of methodological variables included as covariates in the subsequent analyses. R.B. and J.L. analysed the data with help from L.C., L.B. and G.G. T.H., R.B. and J.L. produced all of the figures. J.L. wrote the manuscript with contributions from all co-authors.

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Correspondence to Jonathan Lenoir.

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Extended data

Extended Data Fig. 1 Cartograms of the spatial sampling effort in the geo-database.

Number of taxa per 2° × 2° grid cell for a, elevational and b, c, latitudinal range shifts across the terrestrial (a, b) and (c) marine realm.

Extended Data Fig. 2 Cartograms of the relative proportion of ectotherms, endotherms, phanerogams and cryptogams in the geo-database.

Relative proportion of data per taxonomic group per 2° × 2° grid cell for a, elevational range shifts and b, c, latitudinal range shifts across the terrestrial (a, b) and (c) marine realm. Ectotherms, endotherms, phanerogams and cryptogams are displayed in blue, red, brown and cyan, respectively.

Extended Data Fig. 3 Phylogenetic coverage of the geo-database.

Data on species range shifts throughout a, the whole tree of life with a focus on b, the phylogenetic relationships among the 56 taxonomic classes included in BioShifts. Simplified representation of the Open Tree of Life (https://tree.opentreeoflife.org) collapsed at the level of taxonomic classes. Clades included in BioShifts are highlighted by white dots at the tips. Branches’ colors indicate the taxonomic phylum to which classes belong. Bars show the number of species registered in BioShifts per taxonomic class. Pie charts at the tips of the phylogeny represent the proportion of species recorded in BioShifts (in black) compared to the total number of species recorded in Catalogue of Life (http://catalogueoflife.org/). The white part in the pie charts represent the proportion of species not covered in BioShifts. Colors represent the 20 phyla occurring in BioShifts (the number of species per phyla is provided in parentheses).

Extended Data Fig. 4 Degree of coupling between species elevational range shifts (m yr−1) and isotherm shifts in elevation (m yr−1).

The degree of coupling is displayed separately for the a-c, Northern and d-f, Southern Hemisphere and separately for the a, d, trailing edge, b, e, centroid and c, f, leading edge of the range. The dotted line represents the 1:1 relationship of perfect match, meaning that organisms are closely tracking the shifting isotherms. Ectotherms, endotherms, phanerogams and cryptogams are displayed in blue, red, brown and cyan, respectively.

Extended Data Fig. 5 Degree of coupling between terrestrial species latitudinal range shifts (km yr−1) and isotherm shifts in latitude (km yr−1).

The degree of coupling is displayed separately for the a-c, Northern and d-f, Southern Hemisphere and separately for the a, d, trailing edge, b, e, centroid and c, f, leading edge of the range. The dotted line represents the 1:1 relationship of perfect match, meaning that organisms are closely tracking the shifting isotherms. Ectotherms, endotherms, phanerogams and cryptogams are displayed in blue, red, brown and cyan, respectively. Note that there are no data on the velocity of terrestrial latitudinal range shifts at the trailing and leading edge of range shifters for the Southern Hemisphere.

Extended Data Fig. 6 Degree of coupling between marine species latitudinal range shifts (km yr−1) and isotherm shifts in latitude (km yr−1).

The degree of coupling is displayed separately for the ac, Northern and df, Southern Hemisphere and separately for the a, d, trailing edge, b, e, centroid and c, f, leading edge of the range. The dotted line represents the 1:1 relationship of perfect match, meaning that organisms are closely tracking the shifting isotherms. Ectotherms and cryptogams are displayed in blue and cyan, respectively.

Extended Data Fig. 7 Degree of coupling between species range shifts and isotherm shifts for marine cryptogams.

Interaction effects between the VIS and a, baseline temperatures or b, the standardized HFI on the velocity of species range shifts along the latitudinal gradients for marine cryptogams. The two white lines and the white hatching represent the range of conditions for which marine cryptogams closely track the shifting isotherms in latitude (that is slope parameter not significantly different from 1 based on 5,000 bootstrap iterations).

Extended Data Fig. 8 The climate warming tracking capacity of marine organisms.

Combined effect of mean annual sea surface temperature prior to the baseline survey (baseline temperatures) and human pressures on the environment (the standardized HFI) on the slope of the relationship between the velocity of marine species range shifts and the VIS along the latitudinal gradient in the oceans (climate warming tracking capacity). The white lines and hatching represent the range of conditions for which marine taxa closely track the shifting isotherms in latitude (that is slope parameter not significantly different from 1 based on 5,000 bootstrap iterations). White transparent dots show the distribution of the raw data (N = 1,403 range shift estimates) used to fit the model. This plot includes both marine ectotherms and cryptogams.

Extended Data Fig. 9 Degree of coupling between species range shifts and isotherm shifts for terrestrial endotherms, phanerogams and cryptogams.

Interaction effects between a-c, the VIS along the latitudinal gradient and the standardized HFI as well as between d-f, the VIS along elevational gradients and baseline temperatures on the velocity of species range shifts for terrestrial (a, d) endotherms, (b, e) phanerogams and (c, f) cryptogams. Note that negative slopes do not necessarily indicate species range shifts in the opposite direction to isotherm shifts, unless the signs of the two estimates (for a given combination of baseline temperatures and standardized HFI) are opposite. Credit: Icon Library (mountain silhouette) under a CC0 Public Domain Licence.

Extended Data Fig. 10 Cartograms of the predicted slope coefficient between the velocity of species range shifts and the velocity of isotherm shifts along elevational gradients for terrestrial endotherms, phanerogams and cryptogams.

Slope estimate per 2° × 2° grid cell along elevational gradients for a, endotherms, b, phanerogams and c, cryptogams. The number of range shift estimates (that is sample size) in each grid cell was used to distort the map: the bigger the grid cell, the larger the sample size. Note that negative slopes do not necessarily mean that species are shifting in the opposite direction to isotherm shifts (see Extended Data Fig. 9).

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Lenoir, J., Bertrand, R., Comte, L. et al. Species better track climate warming in the oceans than on land. Nat Ecol Evol 4, 1044–1059 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-020-1198-2

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