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The range of potential mechanisms limiting species' distributions in space is nearly as varied and complex as the diversity of life itself. Yet viewed abstractly, a species' border is a geographic manifestation of a species' demographic responses to a spatially and temporally varying world. Population dynamic models provide insight into the different routes by which range limits can arise owing to gradients in demographic rates. In a metapopulation context, for example, range limits may be caused by gradients in extinction rates, colonization rates or habitat availability. We have consider invasion models in uniform and heterogeneous environments as a framework for understanding non-equilibrium range limits, and explore conditions under which invasions may cease to spread leaving behind a stationary range limit. We conclude that non-equilibrial range dynamics need further theoretical and empirical attention.