The microclimatological conditions surrounding an organism (the local conditions of climate as determined by aspects of the organism's microhabitat) control the exchange of factors such as heat, water, and nutrients between each organism and the surrounding environment. As a result, microclimates drive many aspects of organismal physiology and ecology. In this article, we first describe the physical characteristics of microclimates and the mechanisms by which organisms interact with microclimates through their behavior and morphology. We then discuss the physiological and ecological implications of microclimates over a range of temporal and spatial scales. Using these principles, we conclude with a discussion of mathematical modeling approaches that can be used to quantitatively predict organism distributions using microclimate characteristics.
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