Future of Fisheries: Perspectives for Emerging Professionals

Climate Change and the Future of Freshwater Fisheries

Daniel J. Isaak

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874387.ch64

My first awareness of the importance that climate has for fish came during my summer field seasons as a Ph.D. student at the University of Wyoming. While conducting electrofishing surveys in the climatically diverse Salt River basin along the mountainous border between Wyoming and Idaho, I observed spatial patterns in species distributions and abundance that strongly paralleled gradients in stream temperature. At the same time, through the research that Dr. Frank Rahel and his students were conducting at the same university, I became aware that climate could change in ways that might have significant repercussions for those fish distributions. A few years later, climate change moved into the American consciousness with the sensation around Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth, and peer-reviewed papers began appearing in the literature that documented environmental trends consistent with global warming. My interest was piqued, and I began seriously digging into the topic of climate change to better understand how freshwater ecosystems could be affected. What I found transformed me and, because of the profound implications that climate change has for everything aquatic, caused me to transform my research career.