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  1. Abstract

    Body size affects the body temperature of an ectotherm by altering both heating rates and the microclimate experienced. These joint effects are rarely considered in the analyses of climatic constraints on ectotherms but nonetheless influence body temperatures and thus activity periods and foraging opportunities.

    Here we develop and test transient heat‐budget models that use height‐specific microclimatic forcing to compute the dynamics of size‐dependent body temperatures of ectotherms in sun and in shade. We incorporate a model of behavioural thermoregulation and use it to compute potential body temperatures and then to map these to ecologically relevant indices, including foraging opportunities and thermal constraints. To illustrate potential applications, we combine a microclimate model driven by a global climate database with the transient behavioural algorithm developed for lizards to explore how body size (10 and 1,000 g) and size‐specific microclimate (at natural heights of 1 and 7.5 cm, respectively) interactively influence body temperatures and ecological indices at a warm, arid location in Australia in both spring and summer. To explore microclimatic effects, we contrast temperatures and indices for animals positioned at their natural versus reciprocal heights above the ground.

    Our simulations show that the behavioural and ecological consequences of size can be strongly biased when jointmore »effects of body size and size‐imposed microclimate are ignored. For example, the two body sizes did not differ in total foraging time when compared at their natural heights, but did differ if compared at the same height, the direction of this difference reversing with the height at which they were compared. We show how computed foraging times can be translated to potential foraging radii from a central place (burrow or shade‐providing bush), thereby illustrating how body size can be physiologically translated into habitat connectivity as a function of different shade configurations, for example, as modified by fire regimes or shrub dieback.

    All functions are now integrated into the biophysical modellingrpackage NicheMapR and as a Shiny app, which should provide new insights and avenues for investigation into functional interactions between body size and habitat structure for ectotherms.

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  2. Abstract

    Winter climate warming is rapidly leading to changes in snow depth and soil temperatures across mid‐ and high‐latitude ecosystems, with important implications for survival and distribution of species that overwinter beneath the snow. Amphibians are a particularly vulnerable group to winter climate change because of the tight coupling between their body temperature and metabolic rate. Here, we used a mechanistic microclimate model coupled to an animal biophysics model to predict the spatially explicit effects of future climate change on the wintering energetics of a freeze‐tolerant amphibian, the Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus), across its distributional range in the eastern United States. Our below‐the‐snow microclimate simulations were driven by dynamically downscaled climate projections from a regional climate model coupled to a one‐dimensional model of the Laurentian Great Lakes. We found that warming soil temperatures and decreasing winter length have opposing effects on Wood Frog winter energy requirements, leading to geographically heterogeneous implications for Wood Frogs. While energy expenditures and peak body ice content were predicted to decline in Wood Frogs across most of our study region, we identified an area of heightened energetic risk in the northwestern part of the Great Lakes region where energy requirements were predicted to increase. Becausemore »Wood Frogs rely on body stores acquired in fall to fuel winter survival and spring breeding, increased winter energy requirements have the potential to impact local survival and reproduction. Given the geographically variable and intertwined drivers of future under‐snow conditions (e.g., declining snow depths, rising air temperatures, shortening winters), spatially explicit assessments of species energetics and risk will be important to understanding the vulnerability of subnivium‐adapted species.

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  3. Abstract Aim

    Identifying how climate change, habitat loss, and corridors interact to influence species survival or extinction is critical to understanding macro‐scale biodiversity dynamics under changing environments. In North America, the ice‐free corridor was the only major pathway for northward migration by megafaunal species during the last deglaciation. However, the timing and interplay among the late Quaternary megafaunal extinctions, climate change, habitat structure, and the opening and reforestation of the ice‐free corridor have been unclear.


    North America.

    Time period

    15–10 ka.

    Major taxa studied

    Woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius).


    For central North America and the ice‐free corridor between 15 and 10 ka, we used a series of models and continental‐scale datasets to reconstruct habitat characteristics and assess habitat suitability. The models and datasets include biophysical and statistical niche models Niche Mapper and Maxent, downscaled climate simulations from CCSM3 SynTraCE, LPJ‐GUESS simulations of net primary productivity (NPP) and woody cover, and woody cover based upon fossil pollen from Neotoma.


    The ice‐free corridor may have been of limited suitability for traversal by mammoths and other grazers due to persistently low productivity by herbaceous plants and quick reforestation after opening 14 ka. Simultaneously, rapid reforestation and decreased forage productivity may have led to declining habitat suitability in central North America.more »This was possibly amplified by a positive feedback loop driven by reduced herbivory pressures, as mammoth population decline led to the further loss of open habitat.

    Main conclusions

    Declining habitat availability south of the Laurentide Ice Sheet and limited habitat availability in the ice‐free corridor were contributing factors in North American extinctions of woolly mammoths and other large grazers that likely operated synergistically with anthropogenic pressures. The role of habitat loss and attenuated corridor suitability for the woolly mammoth extinction reinforce the critical importance of protected habitat connectivity during changing climates, particularly for large vertebrates.

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