[MARMAM] Abstract: Diversity of deep-water cetaceans and global warming

hwhitehe at dal.ca hwhitehe at dal.ca
Thu Oct 23 12:30:35 PDT 2008

The following paper has recently been published:

Whitehead, H., B. McGill and B. Worm.  2008.  Diversity of deep-
water cetaceans in relation to temperature: implications for ocean 
warming.  Ecology Letters 11: 1198-1207.

Abstract: Understanding the effects of natural environmental 
variation on biodiversity can help predict response to future 
anthropogenic change. Here we analyse a large, long-term data set 
of sightings of deep-water cetaceans from the Atlantic, Pacific and 
Indian Oceans. Seasonal and geographic changes in the diversity 
of these genera are well predicted by a convex function of sea-
surface temperature peaking at c. 21 oC. Thus, diversity is highest 
at intermediate latitudes – an emerging general pattern for the 
pelagic ocean. When applied to a range of Intergovernmental 
Panel on Climate Change global change scenarios, the predicted 
response is a decline of cetacean diversity across the tropics and 
increases at higher latitudes. This suggests that deep-water 
oceanic communities that dominate > 60% of the planet's surface 
may reorganize in response to ocean warming, with low-latitude 
losses of diversity and resilience.

There is a .pdf at http://whitelab.biology.dal.ca/labpub.htm.

Hal Whitehead
Department of Biology
Dalhousie University

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