Phylogeography and niche modelling: reciprocal enlightenment

Govan Pahad, Claudine Montgelard, Bettine Jansen van Vuuren

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Phylogeography examines the spatial genetic structure of species. Environmental niche modelling (or ecological niche modelling; ENM) examines the environmental limits of a species’ ecological niche. These two fields have great potential to be used together. ENM can shed light on how phylogeographical patterns develop and help identify possible drivers of spatial structure that need to be further investigated. Specifically, ENM can be used to test for niche differentiation among clades, identify factors limiting individual clades and identify barriers and contact zones. It can also be used to test hypotheses regarding the effects of historical and future climate change on spatial genetic patterns by projecting niches using palaeoclimate or future climate data. Conversely, phylogeographical information can populate ENM with within-species genetic diversity. Where adaptive variation exists among clades within a species, modelling their niches separately can improve predictions of historical distribution patterns and future responses to climate change. Awareness of patterns of genetic diversity in niche modelling can also alert conservationists to the potential loss of genetically diverse areas in a species’ range. Here, we provide a simplistic overview of both fields, and focus on their potential for integration, encouraging researchers on both sides to take advantage of the opportunities available.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-25
Number of pages16
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • climate change
  • conservation
  • environmental niche model
  • palaeoecology
  • phylogeography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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