Niche conservatism, the tendency of a species niche to remain unchanged over time, is often assumed when discussing, explaining or predicting biogeographical patterns. Unfortunately, there has been no basis for predicting niche dynamics over relevant timescales, from tens to a few hundreds of years. The recent application of species distribution models (SDMs) and phylogenetic methods to analysis of niche characteristics has provided insight to niche dynamics. Niche shifts and conservatism have both occurred within the last 100 years, with recent speciation events, and deep within clades of species. There is increasing evidence that coordinated application of these methods can help to identify species which likely fulfill one key assumption in the predictive application of SDMs: an unchanging niche. This will improve confidence in SDM-based predictions of the impacts of climate change and species invasions on species distributions and biodiversity. * These authors contributed equally.