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Ecological and evolutionary processes at expanding range margins

Thomas, Chris D., Bodsworth, E.J., Wilson, Robert J., Simmons, A.D., Davies, Zoe G., Musche, M., Conradt, L. (2001) Ecological and evolutionary processes at expanding range margins. Nature, 411 . pp. 577-581. ISSN 0028-0836. (doi:10.1038/35079066)


Many animals are regarded as relatively sedentary and specialized in marginal parts of their geographical distributions. They are expected to be slow at colonizing new habitats. Despite this, the cool margins of many species' distributions have expanded rapidly in association with recent climate warming3±10. We examined four insect species that have expanded their geographicalranges in Britain over the past 20 years. Here we report that two butterfly species have increased the variety of habitat types that they can colonize, and that two bush cricket species show increased fractions of longer-winged (dispersive) individuals in recently founded populations. Both ecological and evolutionary processes are probably responsible for these changes. Increased habitat breadth and dispersal tendencies have resulted in about 3- to 15-fold increases in expansion rates, allowing these insects to cross habitat disjunctions that would have represented major or complete barriers to dispersal before the expansions started. The emergence of dispersive phenotypes will increase the speed at which species invade new environments, and probably underlies the responses of many species to both past and future climate change.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1038/35079066
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH75 Conservation (Biology)
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Depositing User: Zoe Davies
Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2011 16:45 UTC
Last Modified: 22 Jan 2020 04:04 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Davies, Zoe G.:
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