Microhabitats reduce animal’s exposure to climate extremes

Microhabitats reduce animal’s exposure to climate extremes


The Scheffers et al. (2014) paper discusses the effect of microhabitats and their corresponding microclimates on ectotherm species in a warming macroclimate. 

Goals & Methods

The goal of the study was to assess how in situ climate microrefuges buffer extreme temperature relative to the thermal physiology of inhabiting frog and lizard species, which are two of the most threatened taxa to climate change. The researchers measured the ambient temperature of the rainforest macroclimate and compared that to the microclimate temperatures in 4 types of microhabitat used by frogs and lizards. 

Conclusions & Takeaways

The results show that there may be a groundward trend of movement by ectotherms as they retreat to the microhabitats where temperatures are lower and less variable. As ectotherms, they expend little energy on thermoregulation and thus, adapting to live in habitats with natural thermoregulation has allowed them to survive in areas where the macroclimate is hotter than their CTmax. The results show that, in a warming climate, faunal species biodiversity can be preserved so long as floral biodiversity is retained and naturally cool microhabitats are protected or restored.


Scheffers BR, EDWARDS DAVIDP, Diesmos A, Williams SE, Evans TA. Microhabitats reduce animal\textquotesingles exposure to climate extremes. Global Change Biology. 2013;20:495–503. doi:10.1111/gcb.12439.


  • Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore
  • Centre for Tropical Biodiversity and Climate Change, School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University
  • Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield