The influence of interspecific interactions on species range expansion rates

By: , and 



Ongoing and predicted global change makes understanding and predicting species’ range shifts an urgent scientific priority. Here, we provide a synthetic perspective on the so far poorly understood effects of interspecific interactions on range expansion rates. We present theoretical foundations for how interspecific interactions may modulate range expansion rates, consider examples from empirical studies of biological invasions and natural range expansions as well as process-based simulations, and discuss how interspecific interactions can be more broadly represented in process-based, spatiotemporally explicit range forecasts. Theory tells us that interspecific interactions affect expansion rates via alteration of local population growth rates and spatial displacement rates, but also via effects on other demographic parameters. The best empirical evidence for interspecific effects on expansion rates comes from studies of biological invasions. Notably, invasion studies indicate that competitive dominance and release from specialized enemies can enhance expansion rates. Studies of natural range expansions especially point to the potential for competition from resident species to reduce expansion rates. Overall, it is clear that interspecific interactions may have important consequences for range dynamics, but also that their effects have received too little attention to robustly generalize on their importance. We then discuss how interspecific interactions effects can be more widely incorporated in dynamic modeling of range expansions. Importantly, models must describe spatiotemporal variation in both local population dynamics and dispersal. Finally, we derive the following guidelines for when it is particularly important to explicitly represent interspecific interactions in dynamic range expansion forecasts: if most interacting species show correlated spatial or temporal trends in their effects on the target species, if the number of interacting species is low, and if the abundance of one or more strongly interacting species is not closely linked to the abundance of the target species.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The influence of interspecific interactions on species range expansion rates
Series title Ecography
DOI 10.1111/j.1600-0587.2013.00574.x
Volume 37
Issue 12
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Utah Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
Description 12 p.
First page 1198
Last page 1209
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N