Polar Biology

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 139–151 | Cite as

Temperature variation across Marion Island associated with a keystone plant species (Azorella selago Hook. (Apiaceae))

  • M. J. Nyakatya
  • M. A. McGeoch
Original Paper


Microclimate is the most appropriate measure of climate affecting species. Understanding microclimate variation is essential for predicting effects of climate change on species. This study examined (1) variation in microclimate temperatures associated with Azorella selago Hook. (Apiaceae) across Marion Island, (2) differences between microclimate temperature and meteorological station temperatures, and (3) effect of A. selago on microclimate temperatures. Microclimate temperatures were shown to vary significantly with altitude and island side. The microclimate associated with A. selago was also more extreme than meteorological station temperature ranges suggest. A. selago was shown to ameliorate temperature conditions compared to those on the ground. Given the biotic differences that have been documented between the sides of Marion Island, this finding argues strongly for improved understanding of spatial variability in Marion Island’s climate. Such understanding is particularly critical given the rapid rate of climate change currently being experienced by the island.


Microclimate Microhabitat temperatures Climate change Cushion plant sub-Antarctic 



The Marion Island shape-files were supplied by the Department of Land Affairs (Directorate: Surveys and Mapping), South Africa. We thank K.I. Meiklejohn and J.M. Kalwij for their modifications to the map. The South African Weather Service provided the Marion Island meteorological station data. Thanks are also due to P.C. Le Roux, J. Boelhouwers and N. Gremmen for valuable comments and discussion. This material is based upon work supported by the South African National Antarctic Programme of the National Research Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Conservation Ecology and EntomologyUniversity of StellenboschMatielandSouth Africa

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