Department of Biology

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Henrik Balslev

Niche Breadth Predicts Geographical Range Size and Northern Range Shift in European Dragonfly Species (Odonata)

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We studied how range sizes and shifts in species ranges depend on niche breadth in European dragonflies. We measured range sizes and shifts over a 22-year period (1988–2010) and grouped species into those reproducing in permanent running (perennial lotic) water, permanent standing (perennial lentic) water, and temporary (running or standing) water. Running water species are more specialized and have narrower niches with a more fixed niche position than standing water species. Temporary water species are more generalist and have broader niches without a fixed niche position as clear as permanent water species because they may utilize both temporary and permanent habitats. Running water species have smaller ranges, and some of them have contracted their ranges more than species reproducing in standing or temporary waters; that is, they are especially at risk of habitat loss and climate change because of the joint effects of their narrow niches and small range sizes. Temporary water species track climate changes better than permanent water species. This suggests that ecological specialization may cause contemporary range shifts to lag behind changes in climate and resources. Furthermore, it indicates that recent changes in climate and human land use cause biotic homogenization, where specialists are outperformed and replaced by generalists.

Original languageEnglish
Article number719
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2022

    Research areas

  • aquatic invertebrates, biodiversity, freshwater ecology, geographic range, habitat preference, Odonata, odonatology, range dynamics, range size, species distribution

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