Disappearing refuges in time and space: how environmental change threatens species coexistence

Tamara Muenkemueller, Bjoern Reineking, Justin M. J. Travis, Harald Bugmann, Karin Johst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding the impacts of environmental changes on species survival is a major challenge in ecological research, especially when shifting from single- to multispecies foci. Here, we apply a spatially explicit two-species simulation model to analyze the effects of geographic range shifting and habitat isolation on different coexistence mechanisms. The model explicitly considers dispersal, local competition, and growth on a single resource. Results highlight that both range shifting and habitat isolation severely impact coexistence. However, the strength of these impacts depends on the underlying coexistence mechanisms. Neutrally coexisting species are particularly sensitive to habitat isolation, while stabilized coexistence through overcompensatory density regulation is much more sensitive to range shifting. We conclude that, at the community level, the response to environmental change sensitively depends on the underlying coexistence mechanisms. This suggests that predictions and management recommendations should consider differences between neutral versus stabilized community structures whenever possible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-227
Number of pages11
JournalTheoretical Ecology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


  • climate change
  • fragmentation
  • overcompensation
  • neutral coexistence
  • species interactions
  • range shift
  • climate-change
  • forest fragmentation
  • neutral theory
  • density regulation
  • range shifts
  • biodiversity
  • model
  • landscape
  • impacts
  • communities

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