Species better track climate warming in the oceans than on land

There is mounting evidence of species redistribution as climate warms. Yet, our knowledge of the coupling between species range shifts and isotherm shifts remains limited. Here, we introduce BioShifts—a global geo-database of 30,534 range shifts. Despite a spatial imbalance towards the most developed regions of the Northern Hemisphere and a taxonomic bias towards the most charismatic animals and plants of the planet, data show that marine species are better at tracking isotherm shifts, and move towards the pole six times faster than terrestrial species. More specifically, we find that marine species closely track shifting isotherms in warm and relatively undisturbed waters (for example, the Central Pacific Basin) or in cold waters subject to high human pressures (for example, the North Sea). On land, human activities impede the capacity of terrestrial species to track isotherm shifts in latitude, with some species shifting in the opposite direction to isotherms. Along elevational gradients, species follow the direction of isotherm shifts but at a pace that is much slower than expected, especially in areas with warm climates. Our results suggest that terrestrial species are lagging behind shifting isotherms more than marine species, which is probably related to the interplay between the wider thermal safety margin of terrestrial versus marine species and the more constrained physical environment for dispersal in terrestrial versus marine habitats.

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Lenoir Jonathan, Bertrand Romain, Comte Lise, Bourgeaud Luana, Hattab Tarek, Murienne Jérôme, Grenouillet Gaël (2020). Species better track climate warming in the oceans than on land. Nature Ecology & Evolution. 4 (8). 1044-1059. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-020-1198-2, https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00632/74377/

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