Rui Seabra | February 28, 2014 | 15h20 | CIBIO’s Auditorium, Campus de Vairão




Temperature has long been recognized as a major driver of many ecological processes in the intertidal environment. In recent years there has been an increasing number of studies showing the relevance of thermal variability at the scale of organisms. Nevertheless, given that few longstanding, broad scale networks of sensors exist at the moment, the availability of temperature data at the microhabitat level remains very limited. In an effort to overcome this problem, researchers often assume that microhabitat temperatures vary latitudinally, just as broad scale patterns often do. In the present study we make use of a network of biomimetic temperature loggers spanning more than 15 degrees of latitude, along Europe's Atlantic coast. Three years worth of daily data were analysed in order to find how microhabitat temperature correlates with latitude. While some ecologically relevant temperature metrics do vary latitudinally (e.g. overall frequency distribution, mean), there are notable exceptions. Our results revealed that unless in situ data is obtained, and the appropriate temperature metrics are analysed, any assumption that a microhabitat temperature metric varies latitudinally is unwarranted. In turn, this work also shows that an improved knowledge of the patterns of temperature variability will confer researchers greater confidence when studying the link between physiology, phenology and temperature.



Rui Seabra is a PhD student at the University of Porto, integrated in the BIODIV Doctoral Programme (Thesis title: "Analysis of the mechanistic link between micro-climate and macro-biogeographic patterns of intertidal rocky shore organisms"). His main research interest is the study of how environmental factors influence species' distributions across multiple scales, with a special focus on temperature. He has been deploying bio-mimicking temperature sensors throughout NW Europe, revealing a striking temperature difference in intertidal micro-habitats (i) during aerial exposure (i.e., during low-tide) and/or (ii) facing opposing directions (i.e., North vs. South) but just few meters apart. A better understand of the mechanistic link between micro-climate and macro-biogeography will yield improved forecasts of upcoming climatic-driven ecosystem impacts.



Image credits: Rui Seabra