Understanding interactions between plasticity, adaptation and range shifts in response to marine environmental change

Jennifer M. Donelson, Jennifer M. Sunday, Will F. Figueira, Juan Diego Gaitán-Espitia, Alistair J. Hobday, Craig R. Johnson, Jeffrey M. Leis, Scott D. Ling, Dustin Marshall, John M. Pandolfi, Gretta Pecl, Giverny G. Rodgers, David J. Booth, Philip L. Munday

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

132 Citations (Scopus)


Climate change is leading to shifts in species geographical distributions, but populations are also probably adapting to environmental change at different rates across their range. Owing to a lack of natural and empirical data on the influence of phenotypic adaptation on range shifts of marine species, we provide a general conceptual model for understanding population responses to climate change that incorporates plasticity and adaptation to environmental change in marine ecosystems. We use this conceptual model to help inform where within the geographical range each mechanism will probably operate most strongly and explore the supporting evidence in species. We then expand the discussion from a single-species perspective to community-level responses and use the conceptual model to visualize and guide research into the important yet poorly understood processes of plasticity and adaptation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberY
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1768
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2019


  • Climate change
  • Marine ecology
  • Phenotypic plasticity
  • Range shift
  • Species distribution
  • Species range limits

Cite this