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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Climate Change is Affecting North American Fish

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Wednesday, July 6, 2016/Categories: natural history, wildlife conservation, sustainability, environment, climate change


                                    Map of Fishery Study Sites for In Hot Water  (credit: USGS)

Publishing a special issue of their journal, the American Fisheries Society has presented research on the consequences of climate change to fish species. According to the announcement for In Hot Water: Climate Change is Affecting North American Fish:

"Climate change can create suboptimal habitat for some fish; warmer water can stress coldwater fish, that tend to eat less and grow less, while other fish like smallmouth base, climate change is creating more suitable habitat. Fish that have the most documented risk include species living in arid environments and coldwater species such as sockeye salmon, lake trout, walleye, and prey fish that the larger species depend on for food."

Other major findings include:

1. Climate change is altering abundance, growth, and attraction of some North American inland fishes, with strong impacts seen in coldwater species such as trout, steelhead, and salmon. In particular, sockeye salmon has shown shifts in range, abundance, migration, growth, and reproduction;

2. Evolutionary responses to climate change is limited but includes migration timing and hybridization in some coldwater species. Native cutthroat trout in the Rocky Mountains are now hybridizing with non-native rainbow trout;

3. Shifts in species’ ranges are changing the structure of fish communities, resulting in novel interactions, including altered predator–prey relationships. In Canada, smallmouth bass have expanded their range, altering the food chain as they compete with other top predators for habitat and prey;

4. Droughts are forecasted to increase in frequency and severity especially for rivers of the arid West and Southwest. Droughts impact water flow regulation in multiple ways that affect people, fish, and aquatic ecosystems.

5. To sustainably manage fisheries in the face of climate change, research should move beyond species distribution studies, river projected impacts, and geographic or taxonomic investigations, to document sources of species resilience, implement monitoring to document changes in fish communities, and provide better fishery management tools.

Abigail Lynch, lead author and fisheries biologist with the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, noted:

“The current state of the science shows that climate change is impacting fish in lakes, rivers, and streams, but knowing that is just the first step in effectively addressing the changes to these important natural resources and the communities which depend upon them.”

A Canadian conference presenter offers his perspective on fisheries and climate change in reference to recreational fisheries:



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