Combining bird tracking data with high-resolution thermal mapping to identify microclimate refugia

Ramos, Rita F. ORCID:, Franco, Aldina M. A. ORCID:, Gilroy, James J. ORCID: and Silva, João P. (2023) Combining bird tracking data with high-resolution thermal mapping to identify microclimate refugia. Scientific Reports, 13. ISSN 2045-2322

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Elevated temperatures can have a range of fitness impacts, including high metabolic cost of thermoregulation, hence access to microclimate refugia may buffer individuals against exposure to high temperatures. However, studies examining the use of microclimate refugia, remain scarce. We combined high resolution microclimate modelling with GPS tracking data as a novel approach to identify the use and availability of cooler microclimate refugia (sites > 0.5 °C cooler than the surrounding landscape) at the scales experienced by individual animals. 77 little bustards (Tetrax tetrax) were tracked between 2009 and 2019. The 92,685 GPS locations obtained and their surrounding 500 m areas were characterised with hourly temperature and habitat information at 30 m × 30 m and used to determine microclimate refugia availability and use. We found that the semi-natural grassland landscapes used by little bustards have limited availability of cooler microclimate areas—fewer than 30% of the locations. The use of cooler microclimate sites by little bustards increased at higher ambient temperatures, suggesting that individuals actively utilise microclimate refugia in extreme heat conditions. Microclimate refugia availability and use were greater in areas with heterogeneous vegetation cover, and in coastal areas. This study identified the landscape characteristics that provide microclimate opportunities and shelter from extreme heat conditions. Little bustards made greater use of microclimate refugia with increasing temperatures, particularly during the breeding season, when individuals are highly site faithful. This information can help identify areas where populations might be particularly exposed to climate extremes due to a lack of microclimate refugia, and which habitat management measures may buffer populations from expected increased exposure to temperature extremes.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: RFR work was funded by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) through a doctoral grant (SFRH/BD/14889/2019). JPS was funded by the FCT project SFRH/BPD/111084/2015. This work was co-funded by the project NORTE-01-0246-FEDER-000063, supported by Norte Portugal Regional Operational Programme (NORTE2020), under the PORTUGAL 2020 Partnership Agreement, through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
University of East Anglia Research Groups/Centres > Theme - ClimateUEA
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Science > Research Centres > Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation
Faculty of Science > Research Groups > Environmental Biology
Faculty of Science > Research Groups > Organisms and the Environment
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 17 Mar 2023 16:30
Last Modified: 12 May 2023 00:41
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-023-31746-x


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