Animal culture impacts species' capacity to realise climate-driven range shifts

Ecological predictions of how species will shift their geographical distributions under climate change generally consider individuals as machines that respond optimally to changing environmental conditions. However, animals frequently make active behavioural decisions based on imperfect information about their external environment, potentially mediated by information transmitted through social learning (i.e. culture). Vertical transmission of culture (between generations) might encourage conservative behaviour, constraining the ability of a species to respond, whilst horizontal transmission (within generations) can encourage innovation and so facilitate dynamic responses to a changing environment. We believe that the time is right to unite recent advances in ecological modelling and behavioural understanding to explicitly incorporate the influence of animal culture into future predictions of species distributions.