Opening the climate envelope reveals no macroscale associations with climate in European birds

Colin M. Beale, Jack J. Lennon, Alessandro Gimona

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210 Citations (Scopus)


Predicting how species distributions might shift as global climate changes is fundamental to the successful adaptation of conservation policy. An increasing number of studies have responded to this challenge by using climate envelopes, modeling the association between climate variables and species distributions. However, it is difficult to quantify how well species actually match climate. Here, we use null models to show that species-climate associations found by climate envelope methods are no better than chance for 68 of 100 European bird species. In line with predictions, we demonstrate that the species with distribution limits determined by climate have more northerly ranges. We conclude that scientific studies and climate change adaptation policies based on the indiscriminate use of climate envelope methods irrespective of species sensitivity to climate may be misleading and in need of revision.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14908-14912
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number39
Early online date24 Sep 2008
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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