Running Out of Climate Space

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Science  04 Nov 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6056, pp. 613-614
DOI: 10.1126/science.1214215

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Current biodiversity patterns across the globe are the result of the interplay between past and current climates and the degree to which species respond to these conditions (1). Climate affects both evolutionary processes, such as how fast species diversify, and ecological processes such as range shifts and species interactions. Understanding the spatial distribution of climatic conditions over time is thus crucial for understanding current and likely future species distributions and biodiversity patterns. Two reports in this issue, by Burrows et al. on page 652 (2) and Sandel et al. on page 660 (3), investigate past and future shifts in climate space, with the aim to explain and predict biogeographical patterns.