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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS - Vol. 408 - Feature article
Sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus and bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico; regional diversity of whales and dolphins is more strongly correlated with temperature than with primary productivity. Photo: Catalina Gomez

Whitehead H, O'Brien K, Worm B


Diversity of deep-water cetaceans and primary productivity


Using a database of sightings of deep-water cetaceans in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, along with in situ sea surface temperature (SST) measurements, satellite-derived productivity measures and other factors, Whitehead and co-workers tested the hypotheses that large-scale patterns of marine mammal diversity are linked to primary productivity, sea surface temperature, or a combination of both. They show that cetacean genus richness peaks in regions of high primary productivity, but that most of this effect is captured by optimal sea surface temperature in those same regions. Marine mammal richness globally peaks around 40° N and S, and may result more directly from optimal SST at these latitudes rather than from high productivity.


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