A multi-species modelling approach to examine the impact of alternative climate change adaptation strategies on range shifting ability in a fragmented landscape

Nicholas W. Synes*, Kevin Watts, Stephen C F Palmer, Greta Bocedi, Kamil A. Bartoń, Patrick E. Osborne, Justin M J Travis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)


An individual-based model of animal dispersal and population dynamics was used to test the effects of different climate change adaptation strategies on species range shifting ability, namely the improvement of existing habitat, restoration of low quality habitat and creation of new habitat. These strategies were implemented on a landscape typical of fragmentation in the United Kingdom using spatial rules to differentiate between the allocation of strategies adjacent to or away from existing habitat patches. The total area being managed in the landscape was set at realistic levels based on recent habitat management trends. Eight species were parameterised to broadly represent different stage structure, population densities and modes of dispersal. Simulations were initialised with the species occupying 20% of the landscape and run for 100. years. As would be expected for a range of real taxa, range shifting abilities were dramatically different. This translated into large differences in their responses to the adaptation strategies. With conservative (0.5%) estimates of the area prescribed for climate change adaptation, few species display noticeable improvements in their range shifting, demonstrating the need for greater investment in future adaptation. With a larger (1%) prescribed area, greater range shifting improvements were found, although results were still species-specific. It was found that increasing the size of small existing habitat patches was the best way to promote range shifting, and that the creation of new stepping stone features, whilst beneficial to some species, did not have such broad effect across different species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-229
Number of pages8
JournalEcological Informatics
Early online date25 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015



  • Connectivity
  • Dispersal
  • Ecological networks
  • Habitat restoration
  • Population dynamics
  • RangeShifter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Ecological Modelling

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