In their recent letter, Madin et al. (2016) dispute our findings in Muir et al. (2015a) that reduced levels of light during winter confine staghorn corals to shallower depths at higher latitudes and will ultimately limit their scope for latitudinal expansion as oceans warm. We based our conclusions on a rich global dataset analysed using two types of analyses: polynomial quantile regression models and species distribution models. Madin and colleagues’ reanalysis of our data focuses only on the quantile regression model, and in our view, provides no convincing quantitative evidence in support of their proposition that most species exhibit either no trend or a reverse trend to the one we described.