[MARMAM] New publication: Whales in warming water

solene derville solene.derville at ird.fr
Thu Feb 14 16:46:04 PST 2019

Dear MARMAM community,

We are pleased to announce the publication of the following article in 
Global Change Biology:

*Derville, S., Torres, L.G., Albertson, R., Andrews, O., Baker, C.S., 
Carzon, P., Constantine, R., Donoghue, M., Dutheil, C., Gannier, A., 
Oremus, M., Poole, M.M., Robbins, J. & Garrigue, C. (2019) Whales in 
warming water : Assessing breeding habitat diversity and adaptability in 
Oceania ’ s changing climate. Global Change Biology, 1–16. 


In the context of a changing climate, understanding the environmental 
drivers of marine megafauna distribution is important for conservation 
success. The extent of humpback whale breeding habitats and the impact 
of temperature variation on their availability are both unknown. We used 
19 years of dedicated survey data from seven countries and territories 
of Oceania (1,376 survey days), to investigate humpback whale breeding 
habitat diversity and adaptability to climate change. At a fine scale (1 
km resolution), seabed topography was identified as an important 
influence on humpback whale distribution. The shallowest waters close to 
shore or in lagoons were favored, although humpback whales also showed 
flexible habitat use patterns with respect to shallow offshore features 
such as seamounts. At a coarse scale (1° resolution), humpback whale 
breeding habitats in Oceania spanned a thermal range of 22.3–27.8°C in 
August, with interannual variation up to 2.0°C. Within this range, both 
fine and coarse scale analyses of humpback whale distribution suggested 
local responses to temperature. Notably, the most detailed dataset was 
available from New Caledonia (774 survey days, 1996–2017), where 
encounter rates showed a negative relationship to sea surface 
temperature, but were not related to the El Niño Southern Oscillation or 
the Antarctic Oscillation from previous summer, a proxy for feeding 
conditions that may impact breeding patterns. Many breeding sites that 
are currently occupied are predicted to become unsuitably warm for this 
species (>28°C) by the end of the 21st century. Based on modeled 
ecological relationships, there are suitable habitats for relocation in 
archipelagos and seamounts of southern Oceania. Although distribution 
shifts might be restrained by philopatry, the apparent plasticity of 
humpback whale habitat use patterns and the extent of suitable habitats 
support an adaptive capacity to ocean warming in Oceania breeding grounds.

The paper may be downloaded on 
Feel free to contact me directly for a PDF copy: solene.derville at ird.fr 
<mailto:solene.derville at ird.fr>


Solène Derville
PhD - Marine & Geospatial Ecology
Association Opération Cétacés
UMR Entropie - Institut de Recherche pour le Développement
101 Promenade Roger Laroque, BPA5
98848 Noumea cedex, New Caledonia
Phone: +687 912299

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