Opening presentation by the 2013 Ebbe Nielsen Prize winner, Miguel Araujo, at the 2013 GBIF Science Symposium. Title: Why do species occur where they do?
Simple questions often require complex answers. Although consensus exists that species distributions are determined by a combination of biotic interactions (B), physiological tolerances to abiotic factors (A), and movement (M), the relative importance of each of these factors is still debated. An understanding of the relative contributions of B, A, and M is critical for answering basic questions in biogeography and community ecology and for predicting climate change effects on biodiversity. The presentation will summarize current understanding of the determinants of species distributions with particular emphasis on the development of predictive models of biodiversity change, while proposing a research agenda for the forthcoming years that involves greater integration between otherwise disconnected disciplines in life sciences.