Microclimates and vegetation

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Climate on the broad scale, across hundreds of kilometers, brings about the broadscale distribution of vegetation types (Chapters 1 and 2). However, even looking at the world much more locally, we see that there are also very substantial differences in the average climate. For example, a south-facing slope has a different climate from a north-facing one. The year-round temperature and rainfall conditions under a tree will be different from those just a few meters away in the open. The temperature right at the soil surface is different from the temperature a few centimeters under the surface.

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Tropical rainforests are species-rich, complex ecosystems. They are increasingly being negatively affected by anthropogenic activity, which is rapidly and unpredictably altering their structure and complexity. These changes in habitat state may expose tropical animals to novel and unpredictable conditions, potentially increasing their extinction risk. However, an animal's ability to cope with environmental change may be linked to its personality. While numerous studies have investigated environmental influences on animal personalities, few are focused on tropical species. In this review, we consider how behavioural syndromes in tropical species might facilitate coping under, and adapting to, increasing disturbance. Given the complexity of tropical rainforests, we first discuss how habitat complexity influences personality traits and physiological stress in general. We then explore the ecological and evolutionary implications of personality in the tropics in the context of behavioural flexibility, range expansion and speciation. Finally, we discuss the impact that anthropogenic environmental change may have on the ecological integrity of tropical rainforests, positing scenarios for species persistence. Maintaining tropical rainforest complexity is crucial for driving behavioural flexibility and personality type, both of which are likely to be key factors facilitating long term persistence in disturbed habitats.
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