Predicting intertidal organism temperatures with modified land surface models

Predicting intertidal organism temperatures with modified land surface models,10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2011.08.019,Ecological Modelling,David S. Wethey,Lin

Predicting intertidal organism temperatures with modified land surface models  
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Animals and plants in the marine intertidal zone live at the interface between terrestrial and marine environments. This zone is likely to be a sensitive indicator of the effects of climate change in coastal ecosystems, because of several key characteristics including steep environmental gradients, rapid temperature changes during tide transitions, fierce competition for limited space, and a community of mostly sessile organisms. Here we describe a modular modeling approach using modifications to a meteorological land surface model to determine body temperatures of the ecologically dominant rocky intertidal mussel Mytilus californianus, as a tool that can be used as a proxy for ecological performance. We validate model results against in situ measurements made with biomimetic body temperature sensors. Model predictions lie within the range of variability of biomimetic measurements, based on observations over a 4-year period at sites along 1700km of the US west coast from southern California (34.5°N) to northern Washington (48.4°N). Our modular approach can be easily applied to many situations in the intertidal zone, including bare rock, mussel, barnacle, and algal beds, salt-marsh grasses, and sand- and mud-flats, by modifying the “vegetation layer” in a standard meteorological land surface model. Biophysical models such as these, which link ecological processes to changing climates through predictions of body temperature, are essential for understanding biogeographic patterns of physiological stress and mortality risk.
Journal: Ecological Modelling - ECOL MODEL , vol. 222, no. 19, pp. 3568-3576, 2011
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