Tuesday, August 3, 2010 - 4:25 PM

SYMP 7-9: Toward an integrative theory of species’ ranges

Robert D. Holt, University of Florida and Timothy H. Keitt, The University of Texas at Austin.


Understanding the factors that limit species’ geographical ranges is a classic aim of ecology and biogeography – and this aim is more important than ever, because of the need to understand, predict, and if possible mitigate how species respond to anthropogenically driven change in the global environment.  Unravelling the determinants of both stable and unstable range limits requires one to consider processes operating across multiple scales of biological organization, from individual physiology and behavior, to population dynamics and microevolution, to community interactions and even ecosystem feedbacks.


This paper will provide a broad overview of recent work that links mechanistic models of individual performance to demographic and evolutionary models for range limits at the population and community levels.  We will examine in particular some key features of range limit theory that are still inadequately understood both theoretically and experimentally, involving aspects of both the ecological niche, and dispersal biology, and characterization of the environmental template within which ecological and evolutionary processes play out.