Climate Change Effects on North American Inland Fish Populations and Assemblages

Photo credit: Gretchen J. A. Hansen, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Photo credit: Gretchen J. A. Hansen, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Authors: Abigail J. Lynch, Bonnie J. E. Myers, Cindy Chu, Lisa A. Eby, Jeffrey A. Falke, Ryan P. Kovach, Trevor J. Krabbenhoft, Thomas J. Kwak, John Lyons, Craig P. Paukert, and James E. Whitney

Climate is a critical driver of many fish populations, assemblages, and aquatic communities. However, direct observational studies of climate change impacts on North American inland fishes are rare. In this synthesis, we (1) summarize climate trends that may influence North American inland fish populations and assemblages, (2) compile 31 peer reviewed studies of documented climate change effects on North American inland fish populations and assemblages, and (3) highlight four case studies representing a variety of observed responses ranging from warmwater systems in the southwestern and southeastern United States to coldwater systems along the Pacific Coast and Canadian Shield. We conclude by identifying key data gaps and research needs to inform adaptive, ecosystem-based approaches to managing North American inland fishes and fisheries in a changing climate.

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