Understanding the ability of species to shift their geographic range is of considerable importance given the current period of rapid climate change. Furthermore, a greater understanding of the spatial population dynamics underlying range shifting is required to complement the advances made in climate niche modelling. A simulation model is developed which incorporates three key features that have been largely overlooked in studies of range shifting dynamics: the form of intraspecific competition, density dependent dispersal and the transient dynamics of habitat patches. The results show that the exact shape of the response depends critically on both local and patch dynamics. Species whose intraspecific competition is contest based are more vulnerable than those whose competition is scramble based. Contesters are especially sensitive when combined with density dependent dispersal. Species living in patches whose carrying capacity grows slowly are also susceptible to rapid shifts of environmental conditions. A complementary analytic approach further highlights the importance of intraspecific competition.