Thuiller, W., Munkemuller, T, Lavergne, S., Mouillot, D., Mouquet, N., Schiffers, K. and Gravel, D. (2013).

Ecology Letters, 16, 94-105, doi:10.1111/ele.12104

Key message :The demand for projections of the future distribution of biodiversity has triggered an upsurge in modelling at the crossroads between ecology and evolution. Developing an integrative modelling framework for biodiversity distribution promises to improve the reliability of predictions and to give a better understanding of the eco-evolutionary dynamics of species and communities under changing environments. Here, we briefly review some eco-evolutionary processes and interplays among them, which are essential to provide reliable projections of species distributions and community structure. We identify gaps in theory, quantitative knowledge and data availability hampering the development of an integrated modelling framework. We argue that model development relying on a strong theoretical foundation is essential to inspire new models, manage complexity and maintain tractability. We support our argument with an example of a novel integrated model for species distribution modelling, derived from metapopulation theory, which accounts for abiotic constraints, dispersal, biotic interactions and evolution under changing environmental conditions. We hope such a perspective will motivate exciting and novel research, and challenge others to improve on our proposed approach.

(a) Conceptual representation of ecological filters selecting species from the global pool and shaping the realised local communities. (b) Main processes involved in shaping species range dynamics and community structure and their direct (A E) and indirect (F K) effects on the filtering process. Interactions between abiotic environment, physiology and dispersal can also be important but are omitted here to avoid the figure becoming too complex.

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OTHER TOPICS: Aesthetics of Biodiversity, Biodiversity & Ecosystem Functioning, Biogeography, Macroecology & Ecophylogenetics, Experimental Evolution, Functional Biogeography, Functional Rarity, Metacommunities, Metaecosystems, Reviews and Synthesis, Trophic Biogeography & Metaweb