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As landscapes become increasingly fragmented, research into impacts from disturbance and how edges affect vegetation and community structure has become more important. Descriptive studies on how microclimate changes across sharp transition zones have long existed in the literature and recently more attention has been focused on understanding the dynamic patterns of microclimate associated with forest edges. Increasing concern about forest fragmentation has led to new technologies for modeling forest microclimates. However, forest boundaries pose important challenges to not only microclimate modeling but also sampling regimes in order to capture the diurnal and seasonal dynamic aspects of microclimate along forest edges. We measured microclimatic variables across a sharp boundary from a clearing into primary lowland tropical rainforest at La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica. Dynamic changes in diurnal microclimate were measured along three replicated transects, approximately 30 m in length with data collected every 1 m continuously at 30 min intervals for 24 h with a mobile sensor platform supported by a cable infrastructure. We found that a first-order polynomial fit using piece-wise regression provided the most consistent estimation of the forest edge, relative to the visual edge, although we found no "best" sensing parameter as all measurements varied. Edge location estimates based on daytime net shortwave radiation had less difference from the visual edge than other shortwave measurements, but estimates made throughout the day with downward-facing or net infrared radiation sensors were more consistent and closer to the visual edge than any other measurement. This research contributes to the relatively small number of studies that have directly measured diurnal temporal and spatial patterns of microclimate variation across forest edges and demonstrates the use of a flexible mobile platform that enables repeated, high-resolution measurements of gradients of microclimate.
Graham, E. A., Hansen, M., Kaiser, W. J., Lam, Y., Yuen, E., & Rundel, P. W. (2021). Dynamic Microclimate Boundaries across a Sharp Tropical Rainforest–Clearing Edge. Remote Sensing, 13(9), 1646. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13091646
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