Understanding Past Distribution Changes of Species and Communities

Documenting and understanding how species and ecosystems have responded to environmental changes in the past is critical to improving our ability to predict their likely future responses.

A full understanding of the causes and consequences of species’ distribution shifts from empirical data involves two sequential phases: detection and attribution. Detection involves the use of observed distribution data at multiple time periods to identify whether one or multiple species has shifted their geographical distribution. Attribution involves identifying which of a number of hypothesized environmetal drivers underlies the identified shifts in species’ distributions. My research has tackled both detection and attribution of species’ past distribution shifts with the aim to improve our ability to predict species’ future responses to environmental change.

This research is in collaboration with University of California Berkeley’s Global Change Biology, the UK Biological Records Centre and the Natural History Museum of London.

Rapacciuolo G, Ball-Damerow JE, Zeilinger A, Resh VH. (2017) Detecting long-term occupancy changes in Californian odonates from natural history and citizen science records. Biodiversity and Conservation 26: 2933-2949.

Rapacciuolo G, Maher S, Schneider AC, Hammond TT, Jabis MD, Walsh WE, Iknayan KJ, Walden GK, Oldfather MF, Ackerly DD, Beissinger SR (2014) Beyond a warming fingerprint: individualistic biogeographic responses to heterogeneous climate change in California. Global Change Biology 20: 2841 - 2855.

Powney GD, Rapacciuolo G, Preston CD, Purvis A, Roy DB (2014) A phylogenetically-informed trait-based analysis of range change in the vascular plant flora of Britain. Biodiversity and Conservation 23: 171 - 185.

Kelly M, Easterday K, Rapacciuolo G, Koo MS, McIntyre P, Thorne J. (2016) Rescuing and sharing historical vegetation data for ecological analysis: The California Vegetation Type Mapping project. Biodiversity Data Journal 11: 40 - 62.

Young BE, Auer S, Ormes M, Rapacciuolo G, Schweitzer D, Sears N. (2017) Are pollinating hawk moths declining in the Northeastern United States? An analysis of collection records. PLoS ONE 12: e0185683.

Zeilinger A, Rapacciuolo G, Turek D, Oboyski P, Almeida R, Roderick G. Museum specimen data reveal emergence of a plant disease may be linked to increases in the insect vector population. Ecological Applications 27: 1827-1837.