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Am Nat. 2015 Feb;185(2):281-90. doi: 10.1086/679440. Epub 2014 Dec 22.

Information on biotic interactions improves transferability of distribution models.

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Bio-Protection Research Centre, Lincoln University, P.O. Box 85084, Lincoln 7647, New Zealand; and School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand.


Predicting changes in species' distributions is a crucial problem in ecology, with leading methods relying on information about species' putative climatic requirements. Empirical support for this approach relies on our ability to use observations of a species' distribution in one region to predict its range in other regions (model transferability). On the basis of this observation, ecologists have hypothesized that climate is the strongest determinant of species' distributions at large spatial scales. However, it is difficult to reconcile this claim with the pervasive effects of biotic interactions. Here, we resolve this apparent paradox by demonstrating how biotic interactions can affect species' range margins yet still be compatible with model transferability. We also identify situations where small changes in species' interactions dramatically shift range margins.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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