Incorporating adaptation into forecasts of range shifts with climate change

photograph of common tansy in bloom in a field

Common tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)



Common tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) is an invasive herbaceous perennial plant that is a significant threat across the Upper Midwest and northeastern states. It interrupts native plant communities and requires overlapping management strategies to control it. 

In Minnesota, common tansy has recently dramatically increased in abundance. The densest populations are found in the cooler and wetter northeastern region. Current species distribution models (SDMs) suggest that common tansy is not likely to invade the warmer and drier regions of western and southern Minnesota, and the populations will recede north with climate change. Nevertheless, land managers have recently observed westward and southward range expansion.

These observations suggest that the traditional SDMs might have failed to account for potential evolutionary adaptations in the plants that would allow them to expand their range. This research team seeks to test if adaptation has fueled increases in abundance and range expansion of common tansy, which may be applicable in principle to other terrestrial invasive plants.

Research questions

  • Has adaptive differentiation in common tansy already occurred in Minnesota? What are the traits?
  • What is the spatial scale of local adaptation?
  • What is the influence of adaptive differentiation on choice and timing of management approaches?

Practical implications

This project will provide new insights on the role of adaptive evolution in invasions. The research team will build SDMs that account for past evolutionary change and will be able to predict suitable habitat under current and future climates.

Researchers will also provide guidance for land managers to eradicate and manage invasive species using the new information. The SDMs will help land managers determine how to best allocate their limited resources.

Research team

Ryan Briscoe Runquist | principal investigator

David Moeller | co-principal investigator


Lab or other website


Collaborating organizations

Clay County, Soil & Water Conservation District

Becker County, Soil & Water Conservation District

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Minnesota Department of Transportation

Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station

Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources