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What can life-history traits tell us about species’ ability to cope with climate change? Understanding the factors that govern species’ distributions is of utmost importance to predict potential range shifts triggered by climate change. Species' ranges are partially limited by their tolerances to extrinsic environmental conditions such as climate and habitat, and partially determined by species’ capacity to disperse, establish new populations, and proliferate, which are in turn dependent on species’ intrinsic life-history traits. Yet most forecasts of range shifts consider only climate and dispersal. In order to ask whether other factors should be considered, I (and my colleagues) investigated how range filling and range size of European plants, birds and mammals are determined by these factors. We found that traits related to ecological generalization, such as habitat breadth, were important for all groups of species. Dispersal and seed-banks that permit survival during unsuitable environmental conditions were highly important for plants, whereas fecundity-related traits were important for animal groups. We suggest that considering these traits would improve assessments of extinction vulnerability under climate change.
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16_04_2015 Alba Estrada, What can life-history traits tell us about species’ ability to cope with climate change

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