, Volume 59, Issue 3, pp 389-409

Global Warming and Potential Changes in Fish Habitat in U.S. Streams

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To project potential habitat changes of 57 fish species under global warming, their suitable thermal habitat at 764 stream gaging stations in the contiguous United States was studied. Global warming was specified by air temperature increases projected by the Canadian Centre of Climate Modelling General Circulation Model for a doubling of atmospheric CO2. The aquatic thermal regime at each gaging station was related to air temperature using a nonlinear stream temperature/air temperature relationship.Suitable fish thermal habitat was assumed to be constrained by both maximum temperature and minimum temperature tolerances. For cold water fishes with a 0 °C lower temperature constraint, the number of stations with suitable thermal habitat under a 2×CO2 climate scenario is projected to decrease by 36%, and for cool water fishes by 15%. These changes are associated with a northward shift of the range. For warm water fishes with a 2 °C lower temperature constraint, the potential number of stations with suitable thermal habitat is projected to increase by 31%.