Potential for mountaintop boulder fields to buffer species against extreme heat stress under climate change

Shoo, Luke P., Storlie, Collin, Williams, Yvette M., and Williams, Stephen E. (2010) Potential for mountaintop boulder fields to buffer species against extreme heat stress under climate change. International Journal of Biometeorology, 54 (4). pp. 475-478.

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Species may circumvent or minimize some impacts resulting from climate change by utilizing microhabitats that buffer against extreme events (e.g., heat waves). Boulder field habitats are considered to have functioned as important refugia for rainforest fauna during historical climate fluctuations. However, quantitative data on microhabitat buffering potential in these habitats is lacking. We characterized temperature buffering over small distances (i.e., depths) within an exposed and forested boulder field on a tropical mountain. We demonstrate that temperatures are cooler and become more stable at increasing depths within boulder fields. The magnitude of difference is most pronounced in exposed situations where temperatures within boulder fields can be as much as 10°C lower than near surface conditions. Our data provide a first step toward building models that more realistically predict exposure to heat stress for fauna that utilize rocky habitats.

Item ID: 8121
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-1254
Keywords: microhabitat, buffering, climate change, heat stress, refugia, tropical biodiversity
Date Deposited: 06 Aug 2010 01:55
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050101 Ecological Impacts of Climate Change @ 80%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060208 Terrestrial Ecology @ 20%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960307 Effects of Climate Change and Variability on Australia (excl. Social Impacts) @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960810 Mountain and High Country Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
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