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Journal Articles Science of the Total Environment Year : 2024

Microrefugia and microclimate: Unraveling decoupling potential and resistance to heatwaves

Abstract

Microrefugia, defined as small areas maintaining populations of species outside their range margins during environmental extremes, are increasingly recognized for their role in conserving species in the face of climate change. Understanding their microclimatic dynamics becomes crucial with global warming leading to severe temperature and precipitation changes. This study investigates the phenomenon of short-term climatic decoupling within microrefugia and its implications for plant persistence in the Mediterranean region of southeastern France. We focus on microrefugia's ability to climatically disconnect from macroclimatic trends, examining temperature and Vapor Pressure Deficit (VPD) dynamics in microrefugia, adjacent control plots, and weather stations. Our study encompasses both “normal” conditions and heatwave episodes to explore the role of microrefugia as thermal and moisture insulators during extreme events. Landscape attributes such as relative elevation, solar radiation, distance to streams, and vegetation height are investigated for their contribution to short-term decoupling. Our results demonstrate that microrefugia exhibit notable decoupling from macroclimatic trends. This effect is maintained during heatwaves, underscoring microrefugia's vital role in responding to climatic extremes. Importantly, microrefugia maintain lower VPD levels than their surroundings outside and during heatwaves, potentially mitigating water stress for plants. This study advances our understanding of microclimate dynamics within microrefugia and underscores their ecological importance for plant persistence in a changing climate. As heatwaves become more frequent and severe, our findings provide insights into the role of microrefugia in buffering but also decoupling against extreme climatic events and, more generally, against climate warming. This knowledge emphasizes the need to detect and protect existing microrefugia, as they can be integrated into conservation strategies and climate change adaptation plans.
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Friday, November 1, 2024
Embargoed file
Friday, November 1, 2024
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Dates and versions

hal-04508908 , version 1 (18-03-2024)

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Marie Finocchiaro, Frédéric Médail, Arne Saatkamp, Katia Diadema, Daniel Pavon, et al.. Microrefugia and microclimate: Unraveling decoupling potential and resistance to heatwaves. Science of the Total Environment, 2024, 924, pp.171696. ⟨10.1016/j.scitotenv.2024.171696⟩. ⟨hal-04508908⟩
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