Temperature Preference and Thermoregulation
Tony DiGilaramo, Bryan Franks & Dr. Samuel H. Gruber
Juvenile lemon sharks passing
a bottom monitor
Description: - Through the combined use of archival temperature tags and telemetric methods I will be quantifying daily body temperatures and tracking the activity patterns of free-ranging juvenile lemon sharks relative to ambient temperatures, in an attempt to examine hypotheses of temperature preference and the use of behavioral thermoregulation.
Objectives: - Behavioral thermal ecology is arguably the most important, but least understood factor affecting elasmobranch behavior. Most fish are poikilothermic, therefore many of their physiological processes (such as metabolism and development) are regulated by the thermal characteristics of their environment. It has been well documented that temperature probably has the greatest effect on the life history of teleost fishes than any other abiotic factor, yet virtually nothing is known about its relationship with elasmobranchs. Consequently, it is unclear whether temperature dominates activity and movement of elasmobranchs, or if other ecological factors override this important stimulus. The specific objectives of my research initiative focus on how juvenile lemon sharks exploit thermal heterogeneity in their shallow nursery environment to optimize physiological performance through time. Year-round monitoring of shark body temperatures and activity patterns from manual and automated telemetry systems will allow production of a temporal thermal profile explaining the link between body temperature and diel activity patterns of lemon sharks over a seasonal scale, and will elucidate factors of temperature-habitat selection by juvenile lemon sharks. Understanding how thermal attributes of the nursery environment act on juvenile shark physiology to direct their movements will lead to better conservation, restoration, and future management strategies for coastal shark nurseries.
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