In response to environmental changes and to avoid extinction, species may either track suitable environmental conditions or adapt to the modified environment. However, whether and how species adapt to environmental changes remains unclear. By focusing on the realized niche (i.e. the actual space that a species inhabits and the resources it can access as a result of limiting biotic factors present in its habitat), we here examine shifts in the realized-niche width (i.e. ecological amplitude) and position (i.e. ecological optimum) of 26 common and widespread forest understorey plants across their distributional ranges.