Current Landscape Ecology Reports

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 57–72 | Cite as

Changing Thermal Landscapes: Merging Climate Science and Landscape Ecology through Thermal Biology

  • A. Justin NowakowskiEmail author
  • Luke O. Frishkoff
  • Mickey Agha
  • Brian D. Todd
  • Brett R. Scheffers
Effects of Landscape Structure on Conservation of Species and Biodiversity (J Watling, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Effects of Landscape Structure on Conservation of Species and Biodiversity


Climate change and habitat modification both alter thermal environments and species distributions. However, these drivers of global change are rarely studied together, even though many species are experiencing climate change and habitat modification simultaneously. Here we review existing literature and propose avenues for merging the largely disparate lines of climate and landscape ecological research using temperature exposure and species’ thermal sensitivity as a shared framework. The integration of research on climate and landscape change is in the early stages and lags behind research focused solely on the ecological effects of climate change. Recent studies highlight important mismatches between the resolution of widely used climate datasets and ecological processes, which can be addressed through detailed mapping of thermal landscapes and the microclimates within them. Furthermore, the thermal niches of species, evolved under past climates, can predict the responses of species to changing microclimates associated with habitat modification; this suggests that microclimates and thermal niches may together act as a common filter, reassembling communities in response to both climate and landscape change. There is a need to further integrate microclimate and thermal niche data into landscape ecological research to advance our basic understanding of the combined effects of landscape and climate change and to provide actionable data for climate adaptation strategies that largely focus on activities at landscape scales.


Thermal niche Temperature Microclimate Connectivity Redistribution Climate change 



We thank M. Veiman for comments of the manuscript and J. James for valuable aural input.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Justin Nowakowski
    • 1
    Email author
  • Luke O. Frishkoff
    • 2
  • Mickey Agha
    • 1
  • Brian D. Todd
    • 1
  • Brett R. Scheffers
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation BiologyUniversity of California, DavisDavisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Department of Wildlife Ecology and ConservationUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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