[MARMAM] New Publication: Cold-related Florida manatee mortality in relation to air and water temperatures

Stacie Hardy - NOAA Federal stacie.hardy at noaa.gov
Fri Nov 22 15:45:52 PST 2019

My coauthors and I are pleased to announce the following paper in PLoS ONE:

Hardy SK, Deutsch CJ, Cross TA, de Wit M, Hostetler JA (2019) Cold-related
Florida manatee mortality in relation to air and water temperatures. PLoS
ONE 14(11): e0225048. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0225048

Cold-related Florida manatee mortality in relation to air and water
Many tropical and subtropical species are sensitive to sudden temperature
changes, especially drops in temperature. During winters 2009–2010 and
2010–2011, unusually cold temperatures occurred in many parts of Florida,
USA, resulting in increased mortality of Florida manatees, sea turtles,
fish, corals, and other species. The Florida manatee, in particular, is
highly susceptible to cold stress and death when water temperatures drop
below 20°C. We sought to characterize the magnitude and timing of reports
of cold-related manatee carcasses in relation to fluctuations in water and
air temperatures in central-east and central-west Florida during the six
winters from 2008 to 2014. We used a generalized linear model to predict
counts of manatee carcasses with a cold-related cause of death reported
over 7-day bins in relation to various short-term (two weeks or less) and
cumulative (incrementally summed from the start of the winter)
heating-degree-day effects (HDD; < 20°C) and a categorical winter variable.
Using water temperature data, the top-ranked model in both regions included
a short-term temperature effect (14-day HDD sum) that preceded increases in
reports of cold-related manatee carcasses by 7 days. Cumulative exposure to
cold weather over the winter amplified effects on mortality in the
central-east region. Quantifying the relationship between cold events and
manatee mortality helps us prepare for rescue and salvage operations when
extremely cold weather is forecast. This is especially important because
anticipated loss or degradation of warm-water refuges due to human
activities and sea level rise could potentially impact the manatee
population in the future. These methods could also be applied to other
species susceptible to cold-related mortality.

The full text can be read and downloaded using the following link (open

*Stacie Koslovsky Hardy*
Polar Ecosystems Program
Marine Mammal Laboratory
NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center
7600 Sand Point Way NE
Seattle, WA 98115
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