Air temperature, vapor pressure deficit, and light intensity microclimatic gradients were examined along four forest edge and four paired forest interior transects in the East and West Usambara Mountains, Tanzania. Between 14 August 1995 and 11 August 1998, 287, 282, and 196 air temperature, vapor pressure deficit, and light intensity gradients, respectively, were measured along the four forest edge and four interior transects. The relationship between microclimate and distance from the forest edge was examined using piecewise linear regression. All microclimatic gradients were classified into one of nine shapes based on the sign and the size of the two estimated slopes. The relative frequency in the shapes of 65 percent of air temperature gradients, 52 percent of vapor pressure deficit gradients, and 62 percent of light intensity gradients along forest edge transects exceeded the relative frequency of these same shapes along forest interior transects, indicating that a majority of the forest edge microclimatic gradients measured were influenced by edge effects. Yet this result also indicated that approximately one-third of all air temperature and light intensity gradients and nearly one-half of all vapor pressure deficit gradients recorded during this study were affected by factors independent of edge effects per se, and that forest edge microclimatic gradients were temporally nonconstant. For air temperature and vapor pressure deficit gradients, low spatial but high temporal variation existed in estimated edge width and the relative change in microclimate between the forest edge and interior. For light intensity gradients, both high spatial and temporal variability characterized estimated edge width and relative change in microclimate between the forest edge and interior. The pooled mean edge width and relative change in microclimate between the forest edge and interior across the four forest edge transects for air temperature, vapor pressure deficit, and light intensity gradients were 94.1 m and 2.00°C, 82.6 m and 0.29 kPa, and 60.5 m and 10.6 joules/sec/m2, respectively. These results suggest that forest edge microclimatic gradients in general may be inherently dynamic and nonconstant.
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Vol. 33 • No. 1