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Journal of Biogeography

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Linking pattern to process across spatial and temporal scales has been a key goal of the field of biogeography. In January 2017, the 8th biennial conference of the International Biogeography Society sponsored a symposium on Building up biogeography—process to pattern that aimed to review progress towards this goal. Here we present a summary of the symposium, in which we identified promising areas of current research and suggested future research directions. We focus on (1) emerging types of data such as behavioral observations and ancient DNA, (2) how to better incorporate historical data (such as fossils) to move beyond what we term “footprint measures” of past dynamics and (3) the role that novel modelling approaches (e.g. maximum entropy theory of ecology and approximate Bayesian computation) and conceptual frameworks can play in the unification of disciplines. We suggest that the gaps separating pattern and process are shrinking, and that we can better bridge these aspects by considering the dimensions of space and time simultaneously.