Physiological ecology in the 21st century: advancements in biologging science

Integr Comp Biol. 2005 Apr;45(2):305-20. doi: 10.1093/icb/45.2.305.


Top pelagic predators such as tunas, sharks, marine turtles and mammals have historically been difficult to study due to their large body size and vast range over the oceanic habitat. In recent years the development of small microprocessor-based data storage tags that are surgically implanted or satellite-linked provide marine researchers a novel avenue for examining the movements, physiology and behaviors of pelagic animals in the wild. When biological and physical data obtained from the tags are combined with satellite derived sea surface temperature and ocean color data, the relationships between the movements, behaviors and physical ocean environment can be examined. Tag-bearing marine animals can function as autonomous ocean profilers providing oceanographic data wherever their long migrations take them. The biologging science is providing ecological physiologists with new insights into the seasonal movements, habitat utilization, breeding behaviors and population structures in of marine vertebrates. In addition, the data are revealing migration corridors, hot spots and physical oceanographic patterns that are key to understanding how organisms such as bluefin tunas use the open ocean environment. In the 21st century as ecosystem degradation and global warming continue to threaten the existence of species on Earth, the field of physiological ecology will play a more pivotal role in conservation biology.