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Projected changes in Brook Trout and Brown Trout distribution in Wisconsin streams in the mid-twenty-first century in response to climate change

Abstract

Climate warming is a threat to the survival of fishes adapted to cold water. Brook Trout Salvelinus fontinalis and Brown Trout Salmo trutta are two cold-water species occurring in streams in Wisconsin, where climate change may make these species particularly vulnerable. Vulnerable trout populations need to be identified to aid in the development of adaptation strategies. We used web-based stream temperature and fish-distribution models in FishVis to predict current (late twentieth century) and project future (mid-twenty-first century) distributions of Brook Trout and Brown Trout. The models predict the suitability of habitat for trout in individual reaches using environmental variables in a geographic information system, including adjacent and upstream channel characteristics, surficial geology, landcover, and climate. Future projections of air temperature and precipitation were obtained from 13 general circulation models downscaled for Wisconsin. Currently, 34,251 km of streams are suitable for Brook Trout and 20,011 km for Brown Trout. The models project a decline of 68% (10,995 km) in stream habitat for Brook Trout and a decline of 32% (13,668 km) for Brown Trout. These projected declines, while substantial, were lower than earlier estimates because our models account for projected increased precipitation that may enhance groundwater inputs and partially offset higher air temperatures.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the authors and developers of FishVis. FishVis was supported by the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes Landscape Conservation Cooperative of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Additional support for developing FishVis and our application of FishVis in Wisconsin was provided by the USGS National Gap Analysis Program (GAP), the Great Lakes Aquatic GAP project, the Federal Aid in Sportfish Restoration program, the National Fish Habitat Partnership, the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Climatic Research, and the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts.

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Correspondence to Matthew G. Mitro.

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Guest editors: C. E. Adams, C. R. Bronte, M. J. Hansen, R. Knudsen & M. Power / Charr Biology, Ecology and Management

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Mitro, M.G., Lyons, J.D., Stewart, J.S. et al. Projected changes in Brook Trout and Brown Trout distribution in Wisconsin streams in the mid-twenty-first century in response to climate change. Hydrobiologia 840, 215–226 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-019-04020-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-019-04020-3

Keywords

  • Brook Trout
  • Brown Trout
  • Climate change
  • Fish distribution
  • Wisconsin