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Climate Change Affects The Population Of North American Fishes

First Posted: Jul 12, 2016 06:16 AM EDT

The global climate change is impacting the fish populations and communities and changing the freshwater ecosystems in North America and Canada, according to four new studies.

The studies were printed in the issue of Fisheries magazine this week, published by the American Fisheries Society. The scientists observed various changes in how inland fish grow, reproduce and where they can live.

Doug Austen, Executive Director of the American Fisheries Society and the publisher of Fisheries magazine gave thanks to this synthesis. He further said that they can see the impacts of climate change on inland fish and they are no longer a speculation. He added that they can now begin to tease apart the various stressors on inland fish and provide conservation and research where these programs will really make a difference in both the short and long term.

The findings of the studies reveal that climate change may be modifying the abundance and growth of some North American inland fishes. These include the cold water fish such as Sockeye Salmon, a species experiencing well-documented shifts in range, abundance, migration, growth, and reproduction.

Climate change may be causing earlier migration timing. It allows species that never occurred together previously to hybridize. One example of this is the native Westslope Cutthroat Trout in the Rocky Mountains, which are now hybridizing with Rainbow Trout, a non-native species.

There are also shifts in species' ranges. They are already changing the kinds of fish in a specific water body. This results in new species interactions and changed predator-prey dynamics. In Canada, the Smallmouth Bass have expanded their range, changing their existing food chains because the species compete against other top predators for habitat and prey fish.

The droughts may also experience in many areas in North America. This can worsen the impacts of water flow regulation that might affect the people, fish and the aquatic systems.

Craig Paukert, the lead author of the study and fisheries scientist at the USGS Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Missouri stated that fisheries managers have the tools to develop adaptation strategies to conserve and maintain fish populations even though climate change can seem overwhelming.

Meanwhile, Abigail Lynch, lead author of another study with the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center said that the current state of the science shows that climate change is affecting fish in lakes, rivers and streams, but knowing that is just the first step in effectively addressing the changes to these significant natural resources and the communities which depend on upon them.

 

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