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Picture post: ‘thermal microhabitats’

Cross-posted from The Great Beyond

At a talk yesterday in Washington, plant ecologist Christian Körner showed just how variable temperatures can be in the mountains, even between patches of land that are close together.

This could offer possible escape routes for animals impacted by global warming, as potentially they wouldn’t have to move as far as people think to reach a cooler place to live, he says.

Korner image.JPG

Korner’s lab explains the image as follows:

Using a high resolution thermal imaging camera, this picture illustrates the large variation of temperatures in an alpine landscape at 2500m elevation in the Swiss Alps. Topography and plant cover engineer massive deviations from ambient conditions when the sun is out, permitting plants and animals to thrive in an otherwise cold world. By short distance migration plants and animals can select thermal microhabitats that would otherwise be hundreds of meters of elevation apart.

The image is based on unpublished data by Sebastian Leuzinger and Christian Körner, of the University of Basel in Switzerland and is used courtesy of Körner, who was speaking at the ‘Twenty-First Century Ecosystems: Systemic Risk and the Public Good’ symposium.

Roberta Kwok


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