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on with the physical environment, as well as the physiological response of that organism to the environment," according to the study.

Spanning five years and almost 1000 miles (2000 km) the scientists explored how body temperatures change across latitudes, and the role of splashing waves on the mussels. Using sensors placed in several mussel-strong regions throughout the organisms' territory, the scientists were able to study the temperature changes the mussels experienced on a day to day basis, as well as on a yearly basis. They found that tides as well as wave action impact the temperature ranges the species experience, with varying tolerances depending on where the mussels live.

Helumth and his colleagues found several "hot spots," - areas warmer than expected - and "cold spots" - sites where daily minimal temperatures ran lower than other sites around the same latitude, creating a picture of complex thermal mosaics rather than simple latitudinal gradients.

Importantly, they found that animal temperatures were as hot at sites well within the species range as they were at sites far to the south, suggesting climate change may cause damage not just at range edges, where scientists usually look for such effects, but also at other "hot spots" well within species ranges.

"Our results stress the importance of examining patterns of environmental variables at levels relevant to the organisms, and in forecasting the impacts of climate changes across the species' range," state the researchers.


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Contact: Annie Drinkard
annie@esa.org
Ecological Society of America
14-Nov-2006


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