About this Research Topic
CEMs (Climate Envelope Models) are widely used to predict range changes and extinction likelihoods of species due to climate change, as well as potential new ranges and spread of introduced and potentially invasive plants and animals. The CEM approach correlates existing ranges of species to current or historic climate and assumes that range shifts will track future changes in climate. Extinctions are predicted when the entire existing range of a species falls outside of its climate envelope and expansion into a new range is not possible due to landscape factors. Changes in communities and assemblages are also predicted as species ranges shift due to climate change. Spread of invasive species is also presumed to be limited to climate envelopes inferred from the native range.
Despite widespread use, validation of CEMs is still in the early stages. Many factors other than climate can contribute to historic ranges of species and current range shifts. Validation typically involves development of a CEM on a portion of the available data while withholding some data for validation. However, this may be a weak test due to autocorrelation over space and time.
This topic aims to provide the research community with an up-to-date view of the state of CEMs and their use in forecasting range shifts of species and compositional changes of assemblages. Another goal is to evaluate the utility of CEMs for predicting limits of biological invasions as well as to identify candidate species for likely new invasions. This topic encourages submissions with strong validation testing of CEMs. Model testing applicable to forest (including open forests and woodlands) species and communities will be particularly favored. Other models and approaches of forest and community changes in response to climate change will be considered in the context of explicit comparisons with CEMs.
Fundamentally, the CEM approach is correlational. This is valuable since predictions can be made even in the absence of mechanistic understanding of climate limitations. However, advances in CEM may depend ultimately on studies that attempt to understand at a mechanistic level how climate determines or at least contributes to the range of species. Submissions with this component will be highly regarded.
Keywords: Climate Envelope Models, Invasive Species, Assemblages, Climate Limitations
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