Shifts in phenology and distribution in response to both recent and paleontological climate changes vary markedly in both direction and extent among species. These individualistic shifts are inconsistent with common forecasting techniques based on environmental rather than biological niches. What biological details could enhance forecasts? Organismal characteristics such as thermal and hydric limits, seasonal timing and duration of the life cycle, ecological breadth and dispersal capacity, and fitness and evolutionary potential are expected to influence climate change impacts. We review statistical and mechanistic approaches for incorporating traits in predictive models as well as the potential to use phylogeny as a proxy for traits. Traits generally account for a significant but modest fraction of the variation in phenological and range shifts. Further assembly of phenotypic and phylogenetic data coupled with the development of mechanistic approaches is essential to improved forecasts of the ecological consequences of climate change.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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