Small-scale variation. It is a super important part of my research. I mostly look at it from a human perspective: how humans can disturb an ecosystem and change the whole hidden set of abiotic and biotic factors that drive these systems with it.
Yet, microvariation is of course not limited to human influences, it is omnipresent in many ecosystem and an important driver of the large diversity we observe in many places.
One of my favourite examples of natural microvariation is given by forests accompanying creeks. This forest type never counts for a large percentage of the forest area, yet it means an important lot for the biodiversity.
As conditions can change dramatically over the course of tens of centimeters, so does the vegetation, with the most rare species survival only on these few small spots throughout the forests of the region.
We found a beautiful patch of this forest type in the Condroz in the Walloon region, last week. Even more interesting, it was accompanied by some human disturbance: old stone walls and remnants that provided the totally opposite conditions and were a walhalla for rock species.