In my world, thriving forests/jungles experience abrupt and permanent shifts in climate. They remain wet enough to avoid desertification, but some species that thrive in one temperature range would struggle in the new regime.

I would like to explore how many decades/centuries/millennia it takes for the species distribution of plants and animals to shift. Meaning that struggling species die out or migrate, and better-adapted species enter from neighbouring regions and take over the new niche.

I am also interested in the new dynamics appear when two species that were previously separated end up cohabiting a biome that they are both tolerant to, but not both native to (e.g. what if lions and penguins both ended up in Germany, perhaps a curious symbiotic relationship would emerge).

What real world examples of ecosystem adaptation to sudden climate change are there?

  • $\begingroup$ I count three questions: (1) how many years it takes for the species distribution to change; (2) what dynamics appear when two species which were previously geographically separated come into contact; (3) what real world examples of rapid climate change do we know of. This site has a strict rule of exactly one question per question. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Mar 28 at 12:03
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP there is exactly one question in the question. It has a question mark. The rest is context and motivation. $\endgroup$
    – spraff
    Commented Mar 28 at 12:06
  • $\begingroup$ What? Could you please be specific about the "new regime" that you're referring to. Penguins and lions in Germany - how is that related? How would symbiosis relate to this? Do you know what symbiosis means? $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 28 at 13:08
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    $\begingroup$ I’m voting to close this question because it is a question about zoology better asked on Earth Science. Worldbuilding is about creating and consistently using rules governing a fictional or imaginary world. It is my belief that Real World questions require a worldbuilding context, meaning there's a difference between the Real World and the imaginary world and that difference is germane to the question. That is not the case here. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Mar 28 at 15:17

1 Answer 1


Im gonna assume that climate change is about the temperatures becoming hotter. Cause colder- we had that, we know how it went and it was not wetter, it was drier, cool and glaciers encroaching.

So your non-dry climate change ramps up to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wet-bulb_temperature - meaning your forest gets slow cooked.

Most of the animals die off or migrate away, becoming night dwellers, spending days in burrows. Selecting out all the animals unable to dig, to big to dig.

All plants depending on those animals vanish. All plants unable to prevent heat damage- vanish. This diminished eco-system might hang in some parts diversifying over time again (the survivors flood the ecological niches). But in most parts it wont.

And then its a wet dessert- aka a swamp that it becomes. Part of it evaporate during the day, raining down again in torrents in the evening.

On the timeframe.. life moves fast. Like really fast- recolonizing even a "life-ending" impact crater. https://www.science.org/content/article/life-rebounded-just-years-after-dinosaur-killing-asteroid-struck

But the higher up you go on the complexity of life, the longer it takes to reform- and when the whole niche shifts and falls apart (tree dies without bees, no bees form without the flower-trees). I can not answer that.

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    $\begingroup$ One of my world's key areas gets colder and wetter. $\endgroup$
    – spraff
    Commented Mar 28 at 12:07
  • $\begingroup$ So it becomes like en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Bear_Rainforest a northern rainforrest? You could add resilience to the system, by speeding up transplants.. like there are beasts, that regularly take whole swaps of the eco-system they last resided when they migrate. Even when a part destabilizes, it just doesen't wait for evolution to develop something fresh, instead you bring something working to fill the gaps. $\endgroup$
    – Pica
    Commented Mar 28 at 14:04

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