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We argue here that climate change studies which focus only on single species will be inadequate to address the complexity of causal mechanisms, as climate effects will percolate through entire ecological communities. Changes in species distributions may be considered as: 1) fully independent, in which case each species will respond directly to environmental factors; 2) dependent upon a set of biological interactions among species; or 3) of a combination of both environmental and biological factors.

Our second point is that climate extremes will drive substantial change beyond any changes in averages - and that it is these rare outlier events that are most likely to be relevant for Australia and for the arid zone in particular.

A corollary of this point is that at present, the extremes, e.g. rainfall in the arid zone, are currently unpredictable and this unpredictability is likely to further increase as the extremes increase. This could lead to events of greater severity, more frequent extreme events of current magnitude, or a combination of both. It is not known to what extent the Southern Oscillation Index and the El Niño/La Niña cycles will be altered.

We illustrate our case by considering the interactions among flowering plants and their floral visitors in the Simpson Desert.

Araujo M. B. & Rahbek C. 2006. How does climate change affect biodiversity? Science, 313: 1396-7.
Bascompte J. & Jordano P. 2007. Plant-animal mutualistic networks: The architecture of biodiversity. Annual Review of Ecology Evolution and Systematics, 38: 567-93.
Bascompte J., Jordano P., Melian C. J. & Olesen J. M. 2003. The nested assembly of plant-animal mutualistic networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 100: 9383-7.
Bertin R. I. 2008. Plant phenology and distribution in relation to recent climate change. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society, 135: 126-46.
Both C., Van Asch M., Bijlsma R. G., Van Den Burg A. B. & Visser M. E. 2009. Climate change and unequal phenological changes across four trophic levels: constraints or adaptations? Journal of Animal Ecology, 78: 73-83.
Brook B. W. 2009. Global warming tugs at trophic interactions. Journal of Animal Ecology, 78: 1-3.
Bruno J. F., Stachowicz J. J. & Bertness M. D. 2003. Inclusion of facilitation into ecological theory. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 18: 119-25.
Chesson P., Gebauer R. L. E., Schwinning S., Huntly N., Wiegand K., Ernest M. S. K., Sher A., Novoplansky A. & Weltzin J. F. 2004. Resource pulses, species interactions, and diversity maintenance in arid and semi-arid environments. Oecologia, 141: 236-53.
Dormann C. F., Gruber B. & Frund J. 2008. Introducing the bipartite Package: Analysing Ecological Networks. R news, 8: 8-11.
Elith J., H. Graham C., P. Anderson R., Dudík M., Ferrier S., Guisan A., J. Hijmans R., Huettmann F., R. Leathwick J., Lehmann A., Li J., G. Lohmann L., A. Loiselle B., Manion G., Moritz C., Nakamura M., Nakazawa Y., McC. M. Overton J., Townsend Peterson A., J. Phillips S., Richardson K., Scachetti-Pereira R., E. Schapire R., Soberón J., Williams S., S. Wisz M. & E. Zimmermann N. 2006. Novel methods improve prediction of species' distributions from occurrence data. Ecography, 29: 129-51.
Gibson R. H., Knott B., Eberlein T. & Memmott J. 2011. Sampling method influences the structure of plant-pollinator networks. Oikos, 120: 822-31.
Gilman S. E., Urban M. C., Tewksbury J., Gilchrist G. W. & Holt R. D. 2010. A framework for community interactions under climate change. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 25: 325-31.
Gotelli N. J., Graves G. R. & Rahbek C. 2010. Macroecological signals of species interactions in the Danish avifauna. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 107: 5030-5.
Hairston N. G., Smith F. E. & Slobodkin L. B. 1960. Community structure, population control, and competition. American Naturalist, 94: 421-5.
Hughes L. 2003. Climate change and Australia: Trends, projections and impacts. Austral Ecology, 28: 423-43.
Hughes L. 2011. Climate change and Australia: key vulnerable regions. Regional Environmental Change, 11: S189-S95.
IPCC. 2007. IPCC Fourth Assessment Report. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Geneva.
Jentsch A., Kreyling J., Boettcher-Treschkow J. & Beierkuhnlein C. 2009. Beyond gradual warming: extreme weather events alter flower phenology of European grassland and heath species. Global Change Biology, 15: 837-49.
Kishi D., Murakami M., Nakano S. & Maekawa K. 2005. Water temperature determines strength of top-down control in a stream food web. Freshwater Biology, 50: 1315-22.
Kissling W. D., Field R., Korntheuer H., Heyder U. & Bohning-Gaese K. 2010. Woody plants and the prediction of climate-change impacts on bird diversity. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, 365: 2035-45.
Kreyling J., Beierkuhnlein C., Ellis L. & Jentsch A. 2008. Invasibility of grassland and heath communities exposed to extreme weather events - additive effects of diversity resistance and fluctuating physical environment. Oikos, 117: 1542-54.
Letnic M. & Dickman C. R. 2006. Boom means bust: interactions between the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), rainfall and the processes threatening mammal species in arid Australia. Biodiversity and Conservation, 15: 3847-80.
Memmott J. 1999. The structure of a plant-pollinator food web. Ecology Letters, 2: 276-80.
Memmott J., Waser N. M. & Price M. V. 2004. Tolerance of pollination networks to species extinctions. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B-Biological Sciences, 271: 2605-11.
Morton S. R., Stafford Smith D. M., Dickman C. R., Dunkerley D. L., Friedel M. H., McAllister R. R. J., Reid J. R. W., Roshier D. A., Smith M. A., Walsh F. J., Wardle G. M., Watson I. W. & Westoby M. 2011. A fresh framework for the ecology of arid Australia. Journal of Arid Environments, 75: 313-29.
Ne'eman G., Jurgens A., Newstrom-Lloyd L., Potts S. G. & Dafni A. 2010. A framework for comparing pollinator performance: effectiveness and efficiency. Biological Reviews, 85: 435-51.
Olesen J. M. & Jordano P. 2002. Geographic patterns in plantpollinator mutualistic networks. Ecology, 83: 2416-24.
Pavey C. R., Eldridge S. R. & Heywood M. 2008. Population dynamics and prey selection of native and introduced predators during a rodent outbreak in arid Australia. Journal of Mammalogy, 89: 674-83.
Pellmyr O. 2002. Pollination by animals. In: Plant-animal interactions: an evolutionary approach (eds C. M. Herrera and O. Pellmyr) pp. 157-84. Blackwell Sciences Ltd, Oxford.
Popic T. J., Wardle G. M. & Davila Y. C. 2011 in review. Flower-visitor networks only partially predict the function of pollen transport by bees. Austral Ecology.
Potts S. G., Biesmeijer J. C., Kremen C., Neumann P., Schweiger O. & Kunin W. E. 2010. Global pollinator declines: trends, impacts and drivers. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 25: 345-53.
Scheffer M., Carpenter S., Foley J. A., Folke C. & Walker B. 2001. Catastrophic shifts in ecosystems. Nature, 413: 591-6.
Stafford Smith D. M. 2008. The ‘desert syndrome’ - causally-linked factors that characterise outback Australia. The Rangeland Journal, 30: 3-14.
Suttle K. B., Thomsen M. A. & Power M. E. 2007. Species interactions reverse grassland responses to changing climate. Science, 315: 640-2.
Thibault K. M. & Brown J. H. 2008. Impact of an extreme climatic event on community assembly. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105: 3410-5.
Tylianakis J. M., Didham R. K., Bascompte J. & Wardle D. A. 2008. Global change and species interactions in terrestrial ecosystems. Ecology Letters, 11: 1351-63.
Tylianakis J. M., Laliberte E., Nielsen A. & Bascompte J. 2010. Conservation of species interaction networks. Biological Conservation, 143: 2270-9.
Walker B., Steffen W. & Langridge J. 1999. Interactive and integrated effects of global change on terrestrial ecosystems. In: The terrestrial biosphere and global change: implications for natural and managed ecosystems (eds B. Walker, W. Steffen, J. Canadell and J. Ingram) pp. 329-75. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
Walther G. R. 2010. Community and ecosystem responses to recent climate change. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, 365: 2019-24.
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References

Araujo M. B. & Rahbek C. 2006. How does climate change affect biodiversity? Science, 313: 1396-7.
Bascompte J. & Jordano P. 2007. Plant-animal mutualistic networks: The architecture of biodiversity. Annual Review of Ecology Evolution and Systematics, 38: 567-93.
Bascompte J., Jordano P., Melian C. J. & Olesen J. M. 2003. The nested assembly of plant-animal mutualistic networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 100: 9383-7.
Bertin R. I. 2008. Plant phenology and distribution in relation to recent climate change. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society, 135: 126-46.
Both C., Van Asch M., Bijlsma R. G., Van Den Burg A. B. & Visser M. E. 2009. Climate change and unequal phenological changes across four trophic levels: constraints or adaptations? Journal of Animal Ecology, 78: 73-83.
Brook B. W. 2009. Global warming tugs at trophic interactions. Journal of Animal Ecology, 78: 1-3.
Bruno J. F., Stachowicz J. J. & Bertness M. D. 2003. Inclusion of facilitation into ecological theory. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 18: 119-25.
Chesson P., Gebauer R. L. E., Schwinning S., Huntly N., Wiegand K., Ernest M. S. K., Sher A., Novoplansky A. & Weltzin J. F. 2004. Resource pulses, species interactions, and diversity maintenance in arid and semi-arid environments. Oecologia, 141: 236-53.
Dormann C. F., Gruber B. & Frund J. 2008. Introducing the bipartite Package: Analysing Ecological Networks. R news, 8: 8-11.
Elith J., H. Graham C., P. Anderson R., Dudík M., Ferrier S., Guisan A., J. Hijmans R., Huettmann F., R. Leathwick J., Lehmann A., Li J., G. Lohmann L., A. Loiselle B., Manion G., Moritz C., Nakamura M., Nakazawa Y., McC. M. Overton J., Townsend Peterson A., J. Phillips S., Richardson K., Scachetti-Pereira R., E. Schapire R., Soberón J., Williams S., S. Wisz M. & E. Zimmermann N. 2006. Novel methods improve prediction of species' distributions from occurrence data. Ecography, 29: 129-51.
Gibson R. H., Knott B., Eberlein T. & Memmott J. 2011. Sampling method influences the structure of plant-pollinator networks. Oikos, 120: 822-31.
Gilman S. E., Urban M. C., Tewksbury J., Gilchrist G. W. & Holt R. D. 2010. A framework for community interactions under climate change. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 25: 325-31.
Gotelli N. J., Graves G. R. & Rahbek C. 2010. Macroecological signals of species interactions in the Danish avifauna. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 107: 5030-5.
Hairston N. G., Smith F. E. & Slobodkin L. B. 1960. Community structure, population control, and competition. American Naturalist, 94: 421-5.
Hughes L. 2003. Climate change and Australia: Trends, projections and impacts. Austral Ecology, 28: 423-43.
Hughes L. 2011. Climate change and Australia: key vulnerable regions. Regional Environmental Change, 11: S189-S95.
IPCC. 2007. IPCC Fourth Assessment Report. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Geneva.
Jentsch A., Kreyling J., Boettcher-Treschkow J. & Beierkuhnlein C. 2009. Beyond gradual warming: extreme weather events alter flower phenology of European grassland and heath species. Global Change Biology, 15: 837-49.
Kishi D., Murakami M., Nakano S. & Maekawa K. 2005. Water temperature determines strength of top-down control in a stream food web. Freshwater Biology, 50: 1315-22.
Kissling W. D., Field R., Korntheuer H., Heyder U. & Bohning-Gaese K. 2010. Woody plants and the prediction of climate-change impacts on bird diversity. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, 365: 2035-45.
Kreyling J., Beierkuhnlein C., Ellis L. & Jentsch A. 2008. Invasibility of grassland and heath communities exposed to extreme weather events - additive effects of diversity resistance and fluctuating physical environment. Oikos, 117: 1542-54.
Letnic M. & Dickman C. R. 2006. Boom means bust: interactions between the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), rainfall and the processes threatening mammal species in arid Australia. Biodiversity and Conservation, 15: 3847-80.
Memmott J. 1999. The structure of a plant-pollinator food web. Ecology Letters, 2: 276-80.
Memmott J., Waser N. M. & Price M. V. 2004. Tolerance of pollination networks to species extinctions. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B-Biological Sciences, 271: 2605-11.
Morton S. R., Stafford Smith D. M., Dickman C. R., Dunkerley D. L., Friedel M. H., McAllister R. R. J., Reid J. R. W., Roshier D. A., Smith M. A., Walsh F. J., Wardle G. M., Watson I. W. & Westoby M. 2011. A fresh framework for the ecology of arid Australia. Journal of Arid Environments, 75: 313-29.
Ne'eman G., Jurgens A., Newstrom-Lloyd L., Potts S. G. & Dafni A. 2010. A framework for comparing pollinator performance: effectiveness and efficiency. Biological Reviews, 85: 435-51.
Olesen J. M. & Jordano P. 2002. Geographic patterns in plantpollinator mutualistic networks. Ecology, 83: 2416-24.
Pavey C. R., Eldridge S. R. & Heywood M. 2008. Population dynamics and prey selection of native and introduced predators during a rodent outbreak in arid Australia. Journal of Mammalogy, 89: 674-83.
Pellmyr O. 2002. Pollination by animals. In: Plant-animal interactions: an evolutionary approach (eds C. M. Herrera and O. Pellmyr) pp. 157-84. Blackwell Sciences Ltd, Oxford.
Popic T. J., Wardle G. M. & Davila Y. C. 2011 in review. Flower-visitor networks only partially predict the function of pollen transport by bees. Austral Ecology.
Potts S. G., Biesmeijer J. C., Kremen C., Neumann P., Schweiger O. & Kunin W. E. 2010. Global pollinator declines: trends, impacts and drivers. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 25: 345-53.
Scheffer M., Carpenter S., Foley J. A., Folke C. & Walker B. 2001. Catastrophic shifts in ecosystems. Nature, 413: 591-6.
Stafford Smith D. M. 2008. The ‘desert syndrome’ - causally-linked factors that characterise outback Australia. The Rangeland Journal, 30: 3-14.
Suttle K. B., Thomsen M. A. & Power M. E. 2007. Species interactions reverse grassland responses to changing climate. Science, 315: 640-2.
Thibault K. M. & Brown J. H. 2008. Impact of an extreme climatic event on community assembly. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105: 3410-5.
Tylianakis J. M., Didham R. K., Bascompte J. & Wardle D. A. 2008. Global change and species interactions in terrestrial ecosystems. Ecology Letters, 11: 1351-63.
Tylianakis J. M., Laliberte E., Nielsen A. & Bascompte J. 2010. Conservation of species interaction networks. Biological Conservation, 143: 2270-9.
Walker B., Steffen W. & Langridge J. 1999. Interactive and integrated effects of global change on terrestrial ecosystems. In: The terrestrial biosphere and global change: implications for natural and managed ecosystems (eds B. Walker, W. Steffen, J. Canadell and J. Ingram) pp. 329-75. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
Walther G. R. 2010. Community and ecosystem responses to recent climate change. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, 365: 2019-24.
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