Cool shade and not-so-cool shade: How habitat loss may accelerate thermal stress under current and future climate

Gavin Stark, Liang Ma, Zhi Gao Zeng, Wei Guo Du, Ofir Levy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Worldwide habitat loss, land-use changes, and climate change threaten biodiversity, and we urgently need models that predict the combined impacts of these threats on organisms. Current models, however, overlook microhabitat diversity within landscapes and so do not accurately inform conservation efforts, particularly for ectotherms. Here, we built and field-parameterized a model to examine the effects of habitat loss and climate change on activity and microhabitat selection by a diurnal desert lizard. Our model predicted that lizards in rock-free areas would reduce summer activity levels (e.g. foraging, basking) and that future warming will gradually decrease summer activity in rocky areas, as even large rocks become thermally stressful. Warmer winters will enable more activity but will require bushes and small rocks as shade retreats. Hence, microhabitats that may seem unimportant today will become important under climate change. Modelling frameworks should consider the microhabitat requirements of organisms to improve conservation outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6201-6216
Number of pages16
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Volume29
Issue number22
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2023

Keywords

  • biophysical modelling
  • climate change
  • land use
  • management
  • refuge
  • rocks
  • thermoregulation
  • vegetation

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