Refining predictions of population decline at species' rear edges



Vilà-Cabrera A, Premoli AC & Jump AS (2019) Refining predictions of population decline at species' rear edges. Global Change Biology, 25 (5), pp. 1549-1560.

According to broad‐scale application of biogeographical theory, widespread retractions of species’ rear edges should be seen in response to ongoing climate change. This prediction rests on the assumption that rear edge populations are ‘marginal’ since they occur at the limit of the species’ ecological tolerance and are expected to decline in performance as climate warming pushes them to extirpation. However, conflicts between observations and predictions are increasingly accumulating and little progress has been made in explaining this disparity. We argue that a revision of the concept of marginality is necessary, together with explicit testing of population decline, which is increasingly possible as data availability improves. Such action should be based on taking the population perspective across a species’ rear edge, encompassing the ecological, geographical and genetic dimensions of marginality. Refining our understanding of rear edge populations is essential to advance our ability to monitor, predict and plan for the impacts of environmental change on species range dynamics.

biogeography; biotic interactions; climate change; land‐use; marginal; population ecology; population genetics; relict population

Global Change Biology: Volume 25, Issue 5

FundersEuropean Commission
Publication date31/05/2019
Publication date online21/02/2019
Date accepted by journal26/01/2019

People (1)


Professor Alistair Jump
Professor Alistair Jump

Dean of Natural Sciences, NS Management and Support

Projects (1)