Climate change and intrataxonomic variation

Anticipating and planning for the effects of climate change on the natural world depends on understanding how variation within species affects their responses to environmental change. Unfortunately, to date, methods for predicting responses to climate change have generally assumed that species respond homogenously, as if they were a single undifferentiated unit. Our research addresses this challenge by developing models to understand empirical systems where there is externally-validated evidence of locally-defined differences in the relationship between species and climate. Our work highlights the need to incorporate phylogenetic relationships within and between species when estimating niches. However, we have also explored non-genetic bases of heterogeneity in responses to climate.

Example of sponsored projects

  • Intraspecific phenotypic, genotypic, and microbiome variation in Big Bluestem, a dominant tallgrass prairie plant (USDA NIFA).
  • Climate response coherency in the North American pika, a climate-sensitive high-elevation lagomorph (US Geological Survey, Alan Graham Fund in Global Change)
  • Differences in how land cover and climate affect low- and high-elevational range limits of small mammals in the Sierra Nevada (California Energy Commission).

Example publications

Smith, A.B., Beever, E.A., Kessler, A.E., Johnston, A.N., Ray, C., Epps, C.W., Lanier, H.C., Klinger, R.C., Rodhouse, T.J., Varner, J., Perrine, J., Seglund, A., Hall, E., Galbreath, K., Anderson, C., Billman, P., Blatz, G., Brewer, J., Vardaro, J.C., Chalfoun, A.D., Collins, G., Craighead, A., Curlis, C., Daly, C., Doak, D.F., East, M., Edwards, M., Erb, L., Ernest, K.A., Fauver, B., Foresman, K., Goehring, K., Hagar, J., Hayes, C.L., Henry, P., Hersey, K., Hilty, S.L., Jacobson, J., Jeffress, M.R., Manning, T.E., Masching, A., Maxwell, B., McCollough, R., McFarland, C., Miskow, E., Morelli, T,L., Moyer-Horner, L., Mueller, M., Nugent, M., Pratt, B., Rasmussen-Flores, M., Rickman, T.H., Robison, H., Rodriguez, A., Rowe, K.M.C., Rowe, K.C., Russello, M.A., Saab, V., Schmidt, A., Stewart, J.A.E., Stuart, J.N., Svancara, L.K., Thompson, W., Timmins, J., Treinish, G., Waterhouse, M.D., Westover, M.K., Wilkening, J., and Yandow, L. 2019. Alternatives to genetic affinity as a context for within-species response to climate. Nature Climate Change 9:787-794. article | editorial highlight | cover | PBS NOVA | PHYS.ORG | SciGlow | The Scientist

Smith, A.B., Godsoe, W., Rodríguez-Sánchez, F., Wang, H-H., and Warren, D. 2019. Niche estimation above and below the species level. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 34:260-273 article page | science daily |Texas A&M | F1000 Recommended

Galliart, M., Bello, N., Knapp, M., Poland, J., St. Amand, P., Baer, S., Maricle, B., Smith, A.B., and Johnson, L.J.  2019.  Local adaptation, genetic divergence, and experimental natural selection in a foundation grass across the US Great Plains’ climate gradient. Global Change Biology 25:850-868 open access

Santos, M.J., Smith, A.B., Thorne, J.H., and Moritz, C.  2017.  The relative influence of change in habitat and climate on elevation range limits in small mammals in Yosemite National Park, California, U.S.A.  Climate Change Responses 4:7. open access

Smith, A.B., Alsdurf, J., Knapp, M. and Johnson, L.C.  2017.  Phenotypic distribution models corroborate species distribution models: A shift in the role and prevalence of a dominant prairie grass in response to climate change.  Global Change Biology 23:4365-4375. article | kudos