Climatic Change

, Volume 121, Issue 4, pp 727–738 | Cite as

Potential impacts of climate change on warmwater megafauna: the Florida manatee example (Trichechus manatus latirostris)

  • Holly H. EdwardsEmail author


Most discussions of impacts of Climate Change have focused on species from temperate or polar regions. Impacts to species inhabiting warm climates are often believed to be small relative to those of species living in cooler climates. However, it is evident that some tropical/sub-tropical species, including some marine megafauna may face potentially serious consequences from a changing climate. For example, larger, warmer oceans may appear to benefit marine wildlife species like cold-sensitive Florida manatees; however, findings regarding the impact of global climate change (GCC) on estuaries and nearshore areas of Florida indicate that predicted impacts of climate change may be detrimental to endangered manatees. An examination of how projected impacts of climate change will affect threats to manatees and their habitat indicates that threats may be exacerbated. The most significant threats to the Florida manatee population, such as cold-stress, watercraft collisions, and harmful algal blooms likely will increase. Habitat is likely to be degraded under future climate scenarios. Alterations to Florida’s marine environment are ongoing, yet current manatee management plans do not consider the impacts of climate change. The ability of manatees to adapt to change will be influenced by the speed of change and the degree to which human activity impedes or alters it. To minimize impacts to species we must recognize the influence GCC may have on populations, and begin to identify and implement ways to slow or reverse negative impacts arising from it.


Climate Change Impact Harmful Algal Bloom Indian River Lagoon Population Viability Analysis Influence Global Climate Change 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I thank Tom Reinert, Julien Martin, Kent Smith, Martine de Wit, Chip Deutsch, Leslie Ward, Ron Mezich, Paul Carlson, Karen Steidinger, Leanne Flewelling, David Laist and one anonymous reviewer for their helpful comments.

Supplementary material

10584_2013_921_MOESM1_ESM.docx (31 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 30.9 kb)
10584_2013_921_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (2.1 mb)
ESM 2 Locations of manatee warmwater aggregation sites (stars) and water elevations for Southwest Florida. GIS coastal evaluations provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (PDF 2.08 mb)
10584_2013_921_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (2.7 mb)
ESM 3 Locations of manatee warmwater aggregation sites (stars) and water elevations for the Southwest and Atlantic coast of Florida. GIS coastal evaluations provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (PDF 2.67 mb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation CommissionFish and Wildlife Research InstituteSt. PetersburgUSA

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