A test for a shift in the boundary of the geographical range of a species

Andrew Solow*, Andrew Beet, Uri Roll, Lewi Stone

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One predicted impact of climate change is a poleward shift in the boundaries of species ranges. Existingmethods for identifying such a boundary shift based on changes in the observed pattern of occupancy within a grid of cells are sensitive to changes in the overall rate of sightings and their latitudinal distribution that are unconnected to a boundary shift. A formal test for a boundary shift is described that allows for such changes. The test is applied to detect northward shifts in the northern boundary of the Essex skipper (Thymelicus lineola) butterfly and the European goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) in Great Britain. A shift is detected in the latter case but not in the former. Results from a simulation study are presented showing that the test performs well.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20130808
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Climate change
  • Extreme value statistics
  • Occupancy
  • Species range


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