[MARMAM] New publication: Thermal microrefugia affect migratory phenology

Elizabeth Hieb ehieb at disl.org
Wed Jul 12 14:30:16 PDT 2023

On behalf of all co-authors, we are pleased to share our recent publication:

Hieb, E.E., Cloyed, C.S., DaCosta, K.P, Garelick, A., Carmichael, R.H.
2023. Thermal microrefugia and changing climate affect migratory phenology
of a thermally constrained marine mammal. *Frontiers in Ecology and
Evolution* doi:10.3389/fevo.2023.1211513

Abstract: Changing climate conditions are well documented to affect species
distribution patterns and migratory phenology, especially for thermally
constrained species. Climate induced changes and other natural and
anthropogenic factors may affect habitats heterogeneously, altering
microhabitats that act as refugia. Here, we used a thermally constrained
marine mammal, the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), as a model
species to examine how the availability of thermal microrefugia combined
with climate driven increases in regional water temperatures may affect the
timing and duration of occurrence at the northern margins of the species’
range. We used aerial, thermographic imaging to identify potential thermal
anomalies that could act as thermal microrefugia for manatees during
unfavorable cold temperatures and assessed manatee occurrence at these
sites using citizen-sourced manatee sightings and stranding response data.
To further understand how regional and longer-term water temperatures may
affect the use of thermal microrefugia and phenology of migration, we
compared spatial and temporal distributions of manatee sightings to air and
sea surface temperatures on a decadal scale. Thermal anomalies were
detected at various sources, and documented manatee sightings at or near
these sites support use as thermal microrefugia during cold periods. Cold
season manatee sightings at a known western migratory endpoint (Alabama
waters) have increased during the last decade, primarily through increased
sightings during the late fall and early winter (Nov–Jan) that correspond
to increased regional temperatures during the same period. Manatees may use
thermal microrefugia to remain at northern latitudes longer, delaying
seasonal migrations or overwintering as conditions allow. Climate change is
likely to have further effects on the species’ distribution and migration
patterns, potentially facilitating modern range expansion that has
implications for management and recovery actions for manatees across their
range. Our study provides novel insight for manatees but may also be used
as a model to understand how other thermally constrained species may expand
their ranges into higher latitudes.

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Elizabeth Hieb
Research Technician/Lab Manager
251-861-2141 <1-251-861-2141> ext. 7547
ehieb at disl.edu
101 Bienville Blvd Dauphin Island, AL 36528
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This document, including any attachments, contains privileged and/or
confidential information. You may neither use, copy, nor deliver to anyone
this document or any of its contents or attachments.  All data (broadly
defined as but not limited to numerical, descriptive, narrative, image,
biological or environmental samples, raw or summary data, or any other
content herein) belong to the Alabama Marine Mammal Stranding Network
(ALMMSN) and/or the Manatee Sighting Network under the auspices of the
Dauphin Island Sea Lab (DISL) as an agent of the state of Alabama.  Use of
these data in any form must be requested and approved by contacting
Dr. Ruth H. Carmichael (rcarmichael at disl.org),. ALMMSN/MSN and DISL reserve
the right to review, comment and consult on all data sharing and requests
for data use.  All data use, including analyses and products of any kind
(print, oral, visual, archival, internal or external), after approval,
must acknowledge and properly cite the DISL, ALMMSN and/or MSN, and
data-specific personnel (that may include but not be limited to students,
staff, faculty or administrators who contributed data).  Approved data
users must request the most up-to-date citation from Dr. Carmichael
immediately prior to each use.
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