Climate change, genetic markers and species distribution modelling

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Gotelli, Nicholas J. and John Stanton-Geddes
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Ecologists and biogeographers are currently expending great effort forecasting shifts in species geographical ranges that may result from climate change. However, these efforts are problematic because they have mostly relied on presence-only data that ignore within-species genetic diversity. Technological advances in high-throughput sequencing have now made it cost-effective to survey the genetic structure of populations sampled throughout the range of a species. These data can be used to delineate two or more genetic clusters within the species range, and to identify admixtures of individuals within genetic clusters that reflect different patterns of ancestry. Species distribution models (SDMs) applied to the presence and absence of genetic clusters should provide more realistic forecasts of geographical range shifts that take account of genetic variability. High-throughput sequencing and spatially explicit models may be used to further refine these projections.


Gotelli, Nicholas J., and John Stanton-Geddes. 2015. “Climate Change, Genetic Markers and Species Distribution Modelling.” Journal of Biogeography, n/a – n/a. doi:10.1111/jbi.12562.