Stepping inside the niche: microclimate data are critical for accurate assessment of species' vulnerability to climate change

Storlie, Collin, Merino-Viteri, Andres, Phillips, Ben, VanDerWal, Jeremy, Welbergen, Justin, and Williams, Stephen (2014) Stepping inside the niche: microclimate data are critical for accurate assessment of species' vulnerability to climate change. Biology Letters, 10 (9). 20140576. pp. 1-4.

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Abstract

To assess a species' vulnerability to climate change, we commonly use mapped environmental data that are coarsely resolved in time and space. Coarsely resolved temperature data are typically inaccurate at predicting temperatures in microhabitats used by an organism and may also exhibit spatial bias in topographically complex areas. One consequence of these inaccuracies is that coarsely resolved layers may predict thermal regimes at a site that exceed species' known thermal limits. In this study, we use statistical downscaling to account for environmental factors and develop high-resolution estimates of daily maximum temperatures for a 36 000 km2 study area over a 38-year period. We then demonstrate that this statistical downscaling provides temperature estimates that consistently place focal species within their fundamental thermal niche, whereas coarsely resolved layers do not. Our results highlight the need for incorporation of fine-scale weather data into species' vulnerability analyses and demonstrate that a statistical downscaling approach can yield biologically relevant estimates of thermal regimes.

Item ID: 38571
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1744-957X
Keywords: vulnerability; exposure; spatial weather layers; climate change; sensitivity
Date Deposited: 28 Apr 2015 04:08
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050101 Ecological Impacts of Climate Change @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960307 Effects of Climate Change and Variability on Australia (excl. Social Impacts) @ 100%
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