Managing the Nations Fish Habitat at Multiple Spatial Scales in a Rapidly Changing Climate


  • 1.) Where are the aquatic habitats in need of conservation as climate changes and causes unanticipated changes in the environment?
  • 2.) What are the nationwide aquatic habitat alterations from projected climate and land-use changes?
  • 3.) What are the commonalities in the effects of climate and land-use changes across regions and scales?


We are using downscaled Atmosphere-Ocean General Circulation Models and projected land use models to identify how future climate and land use will impact the vulnerability of fish and fish habitat at national, regional, and local scales.  The future climate simulations for air temperature and precipitation are being used to assess water temperature, stream flow, and nutrient loads in streams and lakes.  To project future land uses, we simulated changes in both agricultural and urban areas within stream and river catchments across the conterminous United States using the Land Transformation Model.  Changes in land use have been projected to 2040 and climate simulations are complete for much of the conterminous US for 1968 – 1999 and 2010 – 2100.  For the national stream assessment, we are conducting an indicator species analysis to identify fish species that are the most sensitive to changes in stream temperature and flow regimes.  At the regional level, we have sufficient stream temperature and flow data to develop water temperature and flow models for the Midwest Glacial Lakes and Northeast regions but not for the Desert Southwest.  Finally, we are using bioenergetics to simulate the effects of climate change on smallmouth bass (SMB) growth and consumption in stream s in Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa, and Minnesota.  Projections indicated that the Missouri and Oklahoma sites are expected experience net air temperature increases of 2-4°C.  Minnesota and Iowa SMB populations showed an increase in growth by 2060 of 4.3% and 3.3%, respectively, based on the mean of the simulations for the three global climate models.  In the Missouri and Oklahoma populations, simulations with 2060 temperature projections from the three models resulted in mean growth increases of 10.0% and 18.8%, respectively.

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  • Lead Investigator: Dr. Craig Paukert
  • Collaborators:
    Dr. Joanna Whittier (University of Missouri)
    Dr. Jeff Kershner, Dr. Steve Hostetler (USGS)
    Dr. Dana Infante (Michigan State University)
    Dr. Lucinda Johnson (University of Minnesota-Duluth)
    Dr. Ty Wagner, Dr. Paola Ferreri (Pennsylvannia State University)
    Dr. Lizhu Wang, Mr. Gary Whelan (Michigan DNR)
    Dr. Julian Olden (University of Washington)
    Dr. Don Pereria, Mr. Pete Jacobson (Minnesota DNR)
    Dr. Bryan Pijanowksi (Purdue University)
  • Funding: US Geological Survey, National Wildlife Climate Change Science Center
  • Cooperators: National Fish Habitat Initiative
  • MU Students and Staff: Dr. Allison Pease, & Mr. Jake Faulkner
  • Location: Nationwide
  • Expected Date of Completion: August 2013