Fine-Tuning the Spatial Distributions of Species' Thermal Habitats
Lenoir, J., Graae, B.J., Aarrestad, P.A., Alsos, I.G., Armbruster, W.S., Austrheim, G., Bergendorff, C., Birks, H.J.B., Brathen, K.A., Brunet, J.O., Bruun, H.H., Dahlberg, C.J., Decocq, G., Diekmann, M., Dynesius, M., Aes, R.E., Grytnes, J.-A., Hylander, K., Anderud, K., Luoto, M., Milbau, A., Moora, M., Nygaard, B., Odland, A., Ravolainen, V.T., Reinhardt, S., Sandvik, S.M., Schei, F.H., Speed, J.D.M., Tveraabak, L.U., Vandvik, V., Velle, L.G., Virtanen, R., Zobel, M. and Svenning, J.-C. 2013. Local temperatures inferred from plant communities suggest strong spatial buffering of climate warming across Northern Europe. Global Change Biology 19: 1470-1481.
Focusing on Northern Europe (53-82°N, 3-32°E), the 35 researchers compiled a comprehensive database of 42,117 fine-grained (<1000 m2) and geo-referenced plots of terrestrial vascular plant communities that encompassed a large array of vegetation types, including forests, scrublands, grasslands and moorlands, after which they combined all vegetation plots with Ellenberg et al. (1992) species-indicator growing-season temperatures that ranged from 1 (cold) to 9 (warm) with independent data on field records of plant community composition, as had previously been done by Karlsen and Elvebakk (2003), Karlsen et al. (2005) and Scherrer and Korner (2011), which procedure they describe as "an approach that is particularly well suited for predictive purposes."
And when all was done, Lenoir et al. concluded that "fine-grained thermal variability over tens or hundreds of meters exceeds much of the climate warming expected for the coming decades," which led them to further conclude that "thermal variability within 1-km2 units strongly increases local spatial buffering of future climate warming across Northern Europe, even in the flattest terrains," while indicating once again that this variability in temperature "provides buffering to mitigate climate-change impacts."
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