The spatiotemporal response of species to past global change must be understood for adaptive management and to make useful predictions. Characteristics of past population dynamics are imprinted in genes, yet these molecular 'log books' are just beginning to be used to improve forecasts of biotic responses to climate change. This is despite there now being robust quantitative frameworks to incorporate such information. A tighter integration of genetic data into models of species range dynamics should lead to more robust and validated predictions of the response of demographic and evolutionary processes to large-scale environmental change. The use of these multidisciplinary methods will help conservation scientists to better connect theory to the on-ground design and implementation of effective measures to protect biodiversity.