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  1. Abstract

    Populations of many species are genetically adapted to local historical climate conditions. Yet most forecasts of species’ distributions under climate change have ignored local adaptation (LA), which may paint a false picture of how species will respond across their geographic ranges. We review recent studies that have incorporated intraspecific variation, a potential proxy for LA, into distribution forecasts, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and make recommendations for how to improve forecasts in the face of LA. The three methods used so far (species distribution models, response functions, and mechanistic models) reflect a trade‐off between data availability and the ability to rigorously demonstrate LA to climate. We identify key considerations for incorporating LA into distribution forecasts that are currently missing from many published studies, including testing the spatial scale and pattern of LA, the confounding effects of LA to nonclimatic or biotic drivers, and the need to incorporate empirically based dispersal or gene flow processes. We suggest approaches to better evaluate these aspects of LA and their effects on species‐level forecasts. In particular, we highlight demographic and dynamic evolutionary models as promising approaches to better integrate LA into forecasts, and emphasize the importance of independent model validation. Finally, we urge closer examination of how LA will alter the responses of central vs. marginal populations to allow stronger generalizations about changes in distribution and abundance in the face of LA.

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  2. Abstract

    Structured population models are among the most widely used tools in ecology and evolution. Integral projection models (IPMs) use continuous representations of how survival, reproduction and growth change as functions of state variables such as size, requiring fewer parameters to be estimated than projection matrix models (PPMs). Yet, almost all published IPMs make an important assumption that size‐dependent growth transitions are or can be transformed to be normally distributed. In fact, many organisms exhibit highly skewed size transitions. Small individuals can grow more than they can shrink, and large individuals may often shrink more dramatically than they can grow. Yet, the implications of such skew for inference from IPMs has not been explored, nor have general methods been developed to incorporate skewed size transitions into IPMs, or deal with other aspects of real growth rates, including bounds on possible growth or shrinkage.

    Here, we develop a flexible approach to modelling skewed growth data using a modified beta regression model. We propose that sizes first be converted to a (0,1) interval by estimating size‐dependent minimum and maximum sizes through quantile regression. Transformed data can then be modelled using beta regression with widely available statistical tools. We demonstrate the utility of this approach using demographic data for a long‐lived plant, gorgonians and an epiphytic lichen. Specifically, we compare inferences of population parameters from discrete PPMs to those from IPMs that either assume normality or incorporate skew using beta regression or, alternatively, a skewed normal model.

    The beta and skewed normal distributions accurately capture the mean, variance and skew of real growth distributions. Incorporating skewed growth into IPMs decreases population growth and estimated life span relative to IPMs that assume normally distributed growth, and more closely approximate the parameters of PPMs that do not assume a particular growth distribution. A bounded distribution, such as the beta, also avoids the eviction problem caused by predicting some growth outside the modelled size range.

    Incorporating biologically relevant skew in growth data has important consequences for inference from IPMs. The approaches we outline here are flexible and easy to implement with existing statistical tools.

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  3. Divergent selection across the landscape can favor the evolution of local adaptation in populations experiencing contrasting conditions. Local adaptation is widely observed in a diversity of taxa, yet we have a surprisingly limited understanding of the mechanisms that give rise to it. For instance, few have experimentally confirmed the biotic and abiotic variables that promote local adaptation, and fewer yet have identified the phenotypic targets of selection that mediate local adaptation. Here, we highlight critical gaps in our understanding of the process of local adaptation and discuss insights emerging from in-depth investigations of the agents of selection that drive local adaptation, the phenotypes they target, and the genetic basis of these phenotypes. We review historical and contemporary methods for assessing local adaptation, explore whether local adaptation manifests differently across life history, and evaluate constraints on local adaptation. 
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  4. Although many species shift their phenology with climate change, species vary significantly in the direction and magnitude of these responses (i.e., phenological sensitivity). Studies increasingly detect early phenology or high phenological sensitivity to climate in non-native species, which may favor non-native species over natives in warming climates. Yet relatively few studies explicitly compare phenological responses to climate between native vs. non-native species or between non-native populations in the native vs. introduced range, limiting our ability to quantify the role of phenology in invasion success. Here, we review the empirical evidence for and against differences in phenology and phenological sensitivity to climate in both native vs. non-native species and native and introduced populations of non-native species. Contrary to common assumptions, native and non-native plant species did not consistently differ in mean phenology or phenological sensitivity. However, non-native plant species were often either just as or more sensitive, but rarely less sensitive, to climate as natives. Introduced populations of non-native plant species often show earlier reproduction than native populations of the same species, but there was mixed evidence for differences in phenological sensitivity between introduced and native plant populations. We found very few studies comparing native vs. invasive animal phenology. Future work should characterize phenological sensitivity to climate in native vs. non-native plant and animal species, in native vs. introduced populations of non-native species, and across different stages of invasion, and should carefully consider how differences in phenology might promote invasion success or disadvantage native species under climate change. 
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  5. Multiple, simultaneous environmental changes, in climatic/abiotic factors, interacting species, and direct human influences, are impacting natural populations and thus biodiversity, ecosystem services, and evolutionary trajectories. Determining whether the magnitudes of the population impacts of abiotic, biotic, and anthropogenic drivers differ, accounting for their direct effects and effects mediated through other drivers, would allow us to better predict population fates and design mitigation strategies. We compiled 644 paired values of the population growth rate ( λ ) from high and low levels of an identified driver from demographic studies of terrestrial plants. Among abiotic drivers, natural disturbance (not climate), and among biotic drivers, interactions with neighboring plants had the strongest effects on λ . However, when drivers were combined into the 3 main types, their average effects on λ did not differ. For the subset of studies that measured both the average and variability of the driver, λ was marginally more sensitive to 1 SD of change in abiotic drivers relative to biotic drivers, but sensitivity to biotic drivers was still substantial. Similar impact magnitudes for abiotic/biotic/anthropogenic drivers hold for plants of different growth forms, for different latitudinal zones, and for biomes characterized by harsher or milder abiotic conditions, suggesting that all 3 drivers have equivalent impacts across a variety of contexts. Thus, the best available information about the integrated effects of drivers on all demographic rates provides no justification for ignoring drivers of any of these 3 types when projecting ecological and evolutionary responses of populations and of biodiversity to environmental changes. 
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