Graham Sustainability Institute

Adjusting the lens of invasion biology to focus on the impacts of climate-driven range shifts

April 2020
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.