Micro-Climatic Amelioration in a California Desert: Artificial Shelter Versus Shrub Canopy
Nargol Ghazian 1  
,   Mario Zuliani 1  
,   Christopher J. Lortie 1, 2  
 
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1
York University, Search Results 4700 Keele St, Toronto, ON M3J 1P3.
2
National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) 735 State St #300, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, United States
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR
Nargol Ghazian   

York University, Search Results 4700 Keele St, Toronto, ON M3J 1P3.
Publication date: 2020-11-01
 
J. Ecol. Eng. 2020; 21(8):216–228
 
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ABSTRACT
Anthropogenic factors such as climate change, land use, urbanization, alongside the spread of invasive species are some of the challenges impacting the arid and semi-arid regions globally. The canopy of many native plants including shrubs and trees not only provides refuge from predators for some animals but also offers a shelter from climatic stressors for other plants. The canopy of native vegetation can thus be a microhabitat critical to the persistence of many species locally, and it is vital to better understand its importance for the conservation and recovery of species in these landscapes. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that triangular and rectangular artificial canopies function similarly to the canopy of resident native shrubs when ameliorating the understory micro-climate. Three light permeabilities including 15%, 50%, and 90% were tested by measuring soil and air temperature with light relative to paired open gap (non-canopied) microsites and shrubs. Shelters offered more stable temperatures and reduction in light compared to the open gap and were not significantly different from established native shrubs. This suggests that this simple, affordable intervention can provide a stop-gap solution that approximates natural heterogeneity in climate at fine scales and offers a refuge whilst managers and stakeholders restore native vegetation such as slow-growing and difficult to establish shrubs within this ecosystem.