Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 123–132 | Cite as

The impact of warming on the appearance of furunculosis in fish of the James Bay region, Quebec, Canada

  • Benita Tam
  • William A. Gough
  • Leonard Tsuji
Original Article


A regional climate change impact assessment was conducted which investigated the timing of the first appearance of furunculosis caused by the bacterium, Aeromonas salmonicida, in fish of the Ouje-Bougoumou region of northern Quebec, Canada. Historical data were used to assess whether there was a temporal relationship between increased temperatures (observed climate data) and the appearance of furunculosis (traditional environmental knowledge was used to provide context). To project future impacts of climate change, climate models and lake models were used. Regression analysis revealed a significant, positive temporal trend in mean air temperature. The temperature range conducive to A. salmoncida survival coincided with the first appearance of furunculosis. In addition, it is predicted that lake temperatures will remain suitable for the presence of A. salmonicida into the future; it is likely that the disease will persist throughout the twenty-first century. Climate change appears to be a factor explaining the onset of furunculosis; however, other factors/stressors cannot be discounted, such as, the effects past mining activities near the lakes of the Ouje-Bougoumou region have had on the body burden of contaminants in the fish (and the potential effects on the fish immune system).


Aboriginal issues Climate change Climate model Fish disease Furunculosis Lake model Traditional environmental knowledge Food security 



Special thanks to the Ouje-Bougoumou community, without their approval and participation, the completion of this study would not have been possible. Thanks to Eric Liberda for his assistance in collecting the bathymetry data used for the study. We gratefully acknowledge funding from SSHRC, IHRDP/CIHR, and the University of Toronto.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physical and Environmental SciencesUniversity of TorontoScarboroughCanada
  2. 2.Department of Environment and Resource StudiesUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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