Range shifting species reduce phylogenetic diversity in high latitude communities via competition

  • Robert Fitt (Contributor)
  • Lesley Lancaster (Contributor)
  • Robert Fitt (Contributor)



Under anthropogenic climate change, many species are expanding their ranges to higher latitudes and altitudes, resulting in novel species interactions. The consequences of these range shifts for native species, patterns of local biodiversity, and community structure in high latitude ecosystems are largely unknown but critical to understand in light of widespread poleward expansions by many warm-adapted generalists. Using niche modelling, phylogenetic methods, and field and laboratory studies, we investigated how colonisation of Scotland by a range expanding damselfly, Ischnura elegans, influences patterns of competition and niche shifts in native damselfly species, and changes in phylogenetic community structure. Colonization by I. elegans was associated with reduced population density and niche shifts in the resident species least related to I. elegans (Lestes sponsa), reflecting enhanced competition. Furthermore, communities colonized by I. elegans exhibited phylogenetic underdispersion, reflecting patterns of relatedness and competition. Our results provide a novel example of a potentially general mechanism whereby climate change-mediated range shifts can reduce phylogenetic diversity within high latitude communities, if colonising species are typically competitively superior to members of native communities that are least-closely-related to the coloniser.

Data type

damselfly abundance and size data Damselfly size data for six species from 87 sites and Damselfly abundance data of six species from 92 sites across North East Scotlanddamselfly_data.xlsx,

Copyright and Open Data Licencing

CC0 1.0
Date made available1 Jan 2018

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