This study focused on two questions relevant to ecophysiology: Do distributions of animal species track shifting microclimatic mosaics under field conditions? Do distributions on different levels of spatial resolution (different “scales”) consistently modify a species’ access to heat or humidity? I counted the arthropods on the bark of exposed tree trunks in northern Germany with a 10× lens and investigated how the dominant species (collembolans, psocopterans, isopods, a linyphiid spider, and an oribatid mite) used climatic patterns at various scales. These included mesoclimatic patterns and shifting microclimatic patterns such as microrelief, trunk faces, and trunk/mesoclimate differences. Bias owing to changing frequency of microhabitats, or to redistributions of animals between microhabitats was avoided. I also investigated the effects of climatic patterns on heat and humidity levels at the bark surface. The distributions of all species, except the psocopterans, similarly tracked shifting microclimatic mosaics and mesoclimates. The distributions of most species modified their access to heat or humidity consistently at several mutually independent scales. The remaining species seemed to be restricted in their climate use by sensory or metabolic limitations.
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Vol. 94 • No. 2