, Volume 71, Issue 2, pp 399-429,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Can a Species Keep Pace with a Shifting Climate?

Abstract

Consider a patch of favorable habitat surrounded by unfavorable habitat and assume that due to a shifting climate, the patch moves with a fixed speed in a one-dimensional universe. Let the patch be inhabited by a population of individuals that reproduce, disperse, and die. Will the population persist? How does the answer depend on the length of the patch, the speed of movement of the patch, the net population growth rate under constant conditions, and the mobility of the individuals? We will answer these questions in the context of a simple dynamic profile model that incorporates climate shift, population dynamics, and migration. The model takes the form of a growth-diffusion equation. We first consider a special case and derive an explicit condition by glueing phase portraits. Then we establish a strict qualitative dichotomy for a large class of models by way of rigorous PDE methods, in particular the maximum principle. The results show that mobility can both reduce and enhance the ability to track climate change that a narrow range can severely reduce this ability and that population range and total population size can both increase and decrease under a moving climate. It is also shown that range shift may be easier to detect at the expanding front, simply because it is considerably steeper than the retreating back.