• Analogue;
  • climate change;
  • dispersal;
  • Europe;
  • Pleistocene ice age;
  • range dynamics;
  • refugia;
  • species migration


Aim  To identify potential source and sink locations for climate-driven species range shifts in Europe since the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM).

Location  Europe.

Methods  We developed a new approach combining past-climate simulations with the concept of analogous climate space. Our index gives a continuous measure of the potential of a location to have acted as a source or a sink for species that have shifted their ranges since the LGM. High glacial source potential is indicated by LGM climatic conditions that are widespread now; high post-glacial sink potential is indicated by current climatic conditions that were widespread at the LGM. The degree of isolation of source and sink areas was calculated as the median distance to areas with analogous climate conditions.

Results  We identified areas of high glacial source potential in the previously recognized refugial areas in the southern European peninsulas, but also in large areas in central-western Europe. The most climatically isolated source areas were located in northern Spain, in north-western Europe and in eastern Turkey. From here species would have had to cover substantial distances to find current climate conditions analogous to LGM conditions of these areas. Areas with high post-glacial sink potential were mainly located in Fennoscandia and in central and south-eastern Europe. Some of the most isolated sink areas were located in the Spanish highlands and around the Baltic Sea.

Main conclusions  Our species-independent approach successfully identified previously recognized glacial refugial areas with high source potential for species range shifts in southern Europe and in addition highlighted other potential source areas in central Europe. This study offers new insights into how the distribution of past and current climatic conditions may have influenced past species range shifts and current large-scale biodiversity patterns.