Linking traits to energetics and population dynamics to predict lizard ranges in changing environments

Am Nat. 2008 Jan;171(1):E1-E19. doi: 10.1086/523949.


I present a dynamic bioenergetic model that couples individual energetics and population dynamics to predict current lizard ranges and those following climate warming. The model predictions are uniquely based on first principles of morphology, life history, and thermal physiology. I apply the model to five populations of a widespread North American lizard, Sceloporus undulatus, to examine how geographic variation in traits and life histories influences ranges. This geographic variation reflects the potential for species to adapt to environmental change. I then consider the range dynamics of the closely related Sceloporus graciosus. Comparing predicted ranges and actual current ranges reveals how dispersal limitations, species interactions, and habitat requirements influence the occupied portions of thermally suitable ranges. The dynamic model predicts individualistic responses to a uniform 3 degrees C warming but a northward shift in the northern range boundary for all populations and species. In contrast to standard correlative climate envelope models, the extent of the predicted northward shift depends on organism traits and life histories. The results highlight the limitations of correlative models and the need for more dynamic models of species' ranges.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Ecosystem*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Lizards / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Population Dynamics