The current rate of anthropogenic climate change is predicted to be unmatched in earth's history. The associated potential loss of biodiversity and ecosystem function is one of the most critical issues our society is facing. Thus, a major aim of global change research is the development of reliable predictions on future geographic distributions of species, communities and functional diversity. These predictions allow to assess the impacts of climatic changes on ecosystem goods and services, to develop adaptive management and conservation strategies and to demonstrate the magnitude of the problem to decision makers. However, the reliability of recent model-based assessments for future species' range dynamics suffers from the fact that most macroecological modeling approaches lack in ecological mechanisms and evolutionary dynamics. The present project seeks to improve the quality and reliability of species distribution models by bridging the gap between macroecological approaches and the accumulating evidence of the importance of evolutionary dynamics for species' response to climate change. In particular, we will (i) evaluate the potential of rapid adaptive evolution for a set of 50 alpine plant species using a novel Bayesian approach to population-based phylogenetics (ii) develop a software module 'xEvol' that incorporates evolutionary dynamics into the existent species distribution model BIOMOVE, and (iii) simulate and evaluate the species' range dynamics for an ensemble of IPCC AR4 climate change scenarios. The scientific output the project will assist the EU in progressing towards meeting the targets set by the Convention on Biological Diversity and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Finally, the expertise developed through the proposed research initiative can be used to address issues raised by the "Climate change, pollution, and risks" thematic priority within the 7th Framework programme of the Marie-Curie Action.
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