Globally, mysticetus or baleen whales have been recognized to undergo changes in migration, breeding, and feeding. Climate change has been identified as an important determinant of these shifts, raising concerns over the recovery of whale populations. Species such as humpback whales and southern right whales are especially vulnerable because they undertake extended seasonal migrations, are exposed to extreme climatic conditions over short periods of time, are long-lived, and have shown certain plasticity regarding their diet and behavior depending on environmental conditions and prey availability. The future recovery of all baleen whales is closely linked with climate change and its influence on their feeding and breeding habitats. We believe that models that assist in understanding and predicting the effects of climate change on whale dynamics are needed to enable conservation management for these iconic species.
The aim of the Whales and Climate topic is to provide research that advances understanding of the complex relationship between baleen whales and climate change. Climate impacts on the marine environment are intrinsically complex; they are characterized by uncertainty, delays, non-linearities, and a multiplicity of pathways, which can mask the cause-effect relationships. We seek research that helps to quantify this complexity of interactions between climate change and mysticetus. The aim is set to shed light on how past, present, and future climate conditions influence a whale's life cycle such as breeding, feeding, migrating, and recovery. It is also to evaluate the relative vulnerability of different populations and species to climate change. Defining impacts and possible relationships with climate conditions can further advance modeling approaches and encourage the inclusion of future climate projections into whales and climate research.
In the scope of this Research Topic are reviews and research contributions looking at mysticetus responses to climate change. The following areas are encouraged for submission:
• Investigations into changes in breeding, feeding, and migration patterns in relation to climate conditions
• Studies on strandings, entanglements, and health in relation to environmental drivers
• Research in whales as climate engineers where whales influence climate conditions on a local and global scale
• Aspects of future whale conservation under climate change requiring new adaptation strategies
• Qualitative and quantitative modeling approaches that explore the dynamics of whale populations in response to climate change
• Research that integrates climate-relevant variables (multiple pathways), combining whale physiology, biology, and behavior with oceanographic/biogeochemical, and climatic conditions