Pre-conference excursion

On microclimate ecology and biodiversity research in Flanders

On a preconference excursion on March 28 you have the possibility to visit cutting edge microclimate ecology research sites and the Hoge Kempen, the only Belgian national park. We will make three stops where there will be guided tours by site managers and room for an interactive discussion.

  • FORBIO – Effects of tree species diversity on microclimate

The FORBIO research site in Hechtel-Eksel is part of the international TreeDiv-network of experimental sites on tree species diversity ( In 40 large plots, five tree species were planted in different diversity levels, ranging from monocultures to four species mixtures. The main goal of the set-up is to investigate the effect of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning. Of course, the differences between tree species and mixtures also result in subtle differences in forest microclimate. During this stop, we visit the experimental site and get a real-life presentation of two innovative sensor types that are used to map the microclimate.

  • ECOTRON Hasselt University – High-tech research with full microclimate control

The UHasselt ECOTRON ( exists of 13 high-tech ecosystem rooms of which the microclimate can be perfectly controlled, for instance to mimic different climate change scenarios. Local site managers Prof. Nathalie Beenaerts, Prof. François Rineau and Prof. Nadia Soudzilovskaia will show us around the impressive infrastructure, will explain the functioning of the ecosystem rooms and will elaborate on their ongoing research.

  • Hoge Kempen – Microclimate research in Belgium’s only national park

Hoge Kempen National Park covers more than 12.000 ha of protected forest and heathland (  We will make a walk in the Mechelse Heide, one of the best conserved heathlands of the national park. Along the way, our guides Prof. Nathalie Beenaerts, Prof. François Rineau and Prof. Nadia Soudzilovskaia will give some background on the vulnerable ecosystems we cross and demonstrate some of their observational research sites.

The excursion runs from 9 AM until 6 PM and includes bus transport from Antwerp and a sandwich lunch. More practical details will be provided shortly before the event. Registration and payment will be together with the conference registration, opening on October 15th.


  • March 28th

Pre-conference excursion (with separate registration) featuring some of Flanders’ most beautiful nature and most interesting microclimate research.

Evening: icebreaker event featuring Belgian fries

  • From March 29th to March 31st: main conference

2,5 days of conferencing, including 10 invited keynote speakers (see below), submitted talks from 12’ + 3’, and a poster session

  • March 31st afternoon

Microclimate workshops. If you have an idea for a workshop, get in touch with the organizing committee!

Our keynote speakers

Ilya Maclean

Ilya Maclean

University of Exeter, UK

On the measurement of microclimate

Growing interest in microclimate ecology has been accompanied by the development of various compact temperature sensors, but errors obtained with these devices often exceed the effect size being measured.
Here I discuss the problem of measuring microclimate temperatures accurately and show how problems can be overcome.

Jens-Christian Svenning

Jens-Christian Svenning

Aarhus University, Denmark

Integrated macro- and paleoecological perspectives on the impacts of human-driven climate change on biodiversity, with attention to the role of topo- and microclimate

We are facing massive human-induced climate change, with likely major impacts on the biosphere. How these exactly will be, however, remains uncertain. As Earth has experienced massive climate change in the
past, studying their ecological effects offers source of information for forecasting the effects of future climate change. Therefore, in this talk, I will look at what an integrated macro- and paleoecological perspective tells us about the impacts of major climate change on species distributions and species
diversity, with focus on the role of micro- and topoclimate in modulating and buffering, or not, responses to macroclimatic change.

Fernando Maestre

Fernando Maestre

Rey Juan Carlos University & University of Alicante, Spain

In the footsteps of Humboldt: understanding the ecology of our planet through global scientific collaboration

Alexander von Humboldt developed a way of doing science based on the use of a large number of observations of human and environmental variables over space and time. I will talk about how we are following Humboldt´s steps to study the ecology of global drylands using a multidisciplinary approach and the power of international collaboration. I will also provide some recommendations for those interested in
setting up an international and inclusive network of researchers to address ecological questions and problems at the global scale.

Julia Kemppinen

Julia Kemppinen

University of Oulu, Finland

Microclimate and soil moisture in high-latitude ecosystems

The spatio-temporal variation of microclimate and soil moisture is evident from the boreal forests to the tundra. These patterns help us understand high-latitude ecosystems that are facing a rapid macroclimatic warming with possible feedbacks to global climate change. This highlights the role of microclimate and soil moisture in these ecosystems and also their importance beyond the scope of the high-latitudes.

Lauren Buckley

Lauren Buckley

University of Washington, USA

Moving beyond air temperature to characterize how organisms experience climate variability and change

Characterizing how exposed and sensitive organisms are to climate variability and change is needed to understand their ecological and evolutionary responses. The talk will present case studies for montane
insects demonstrating the need to consider how organismal phenotypes interact with microclimate. I will also present TrEnCh project computational and visualization tools that meet the need to Translate Environmental Change into organismal responses.

Sylvain Pincebourde

Sylvain Pincebourde

Université de Tours, France

Fine-scale microclimates modulate the vulnerability of insects to warming

Insects are small creatures and as such they use fine-scale microclimates at the cm scale. How do we get to such small scales? Integrative approaches relying on biophysics and ecophysiology are powerful to quantify the vulnerability of insects in a warming world by considering the thermal experience of these species. I will exemplify these aspects based on our research on plant-insect relationships. Fine-scale microclimates can both provide thermal refuges and expose to thermal danger depending on subtle biophysical mechanisms.

Rebecca Senior

Rebecca Senior

Princeton University, USA

The impacts of logging on tropical rainforest microclimates

Habitat degradation by selective logging is extensive in the tropics, yet even intensively logged forests retain much of their biodiversity. To maintain high biodiversity into the future, logged forests must be able to support species under climate change – a feat that could be compromised by the structural simplification inherent in logging. Using both thermal imaging cameras and temperature loggers, we discovered a surprising and encouraging capacity for intensively logged tropical forests to thermally recover, which gives hope that at least some species will be capable of finding local thermal microrefugia as the climate warms.

Martin Nuñez

CONICET, Argentina



Vigdis Vandvik

University of Bergen, Norway



Kassaye Tolassa

Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia