Forests, one of the Earth's most heavily dominated ecosystems, host a large biodiversity. Scientists are increasingly interested in how this diversity is promoted by the protective microclimates of trees.
A recent study by the University of Montana suggests that a warming climate in the Pacific Northwest would reduce the ability of many forest microclimates to moderate climate extremes in the future.
The study was published in Space and Time in Ecology .
"Forest Wreaths produce microclimates that are less variable and more stable than similar forest-free environments," said Kimberley Davis, a UM postdoctoral researcher and lead author of the study. "Our work shows that the ability of forests to buffer climate extremes is dependent on the canopy and local moisture availability ̵
She said many plants and animals that live in undergrowth The forests are dependent on the prevailing stable climatic conditions there. The study suggests that some forests will lose their ability to buffer climate extremes as water is limited at many sites.
"Changes in the water balance, combined with increasing damage from the increase in frequency and severity of disturbances, will cause many changes in the microclimate conditions of western US forests," said Davis.
As Californian forest fires burn, southern plant species move north
Kimberley Davis et al. Microclimate buffering in forests of the future: The role of the local water household, Ecography (2018). DOI: 10.1111 / ecog.03836