A main pilar of my theoretical work: the role of microclimate in plant performance in mountains and elsewhere.


Temperature sensors

An issue mainly tackled with the help of iButtons, rugged soil temperature dataloggers that I hide, hid and will hide (and hope to find back) all over the world to link plant species performance and distribution to the actual temperatures they experience.

The difference between large-scale climate and the actual microclimate experienced by (mountain) plants is extremely large (for example: no freezing temperatures under a thick pack of snow), and human disturbances totally change these patterns. It is my goal to find out the effect of both the natural ànd the altered microclimate on plant species.

Meltwater river, racing down the mountain

Microclimate drives the strong differences in snowmelt times between east- and west-facing slopes in this valley

We will look at microclimate on different levels and scales. A very important one is the one playing a role on the picture shown above: topography in the mountains drastically changes the climate experienced by plants on different slopes.

Experiment to unravel effects of disturbance on microclimate

Experiment to unravel effects of disturbance on microclimate

A second scale will be even smaller: disturbance events like roads and trails create themselves a very different microclimate. The effect of this on our study species is still largely unknown.

A nice example of the effect of microclimate close to home can be seen here.