Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 339–361 | Cite as

Global synthesis of the documented and projected effects of climate change on inland fishes

  • Bonnie J. E. MyersEmail author
  • Abigail J. Lynch
  • David B. Bunnell
  • Cindy Chu
  • Jeffrey A. Falke
  • Ryan P. Kovach
  • Trevor J. Krabbenhoft
  • Thomas J. Kwak
  • Craig P. Paukert
Research Paper


Although climate change is an important factor affecting inland fishes globally, a comprehensive review of how climate change has impacted and will continue to impact inland fishes worldwide does not currently exist. We conducted an extensive, systematic primary literature review to identify English-language, peer-reviewed journal publications with projected and documented examples of climate change impacts on inland fishes globally. Since the mid-1980s, scientists have projected the effects of climate change on inland fishes, and more recently, documentation of climate change impacts on inland fishes has increased. Of the thousands of title and abstracts reviewed, we selected 624 publications for a full text review: 63 of these publications documented an effect of climate change on inland fishes, while 116 publications projected inland fishes’ response to future climate change. Documented and projected impacts of climate change varied, but several trends emerged including differences between documented and projected impacts of climate change on salmonid abundance (P = 0.0002). Salmonid abundance decreased in 89.5% of documented effects compared to 35.7% of projected effects, where variable effects were more commonly reported (64.3%). Studies focused on responses of salmonids (61% of total) to climate change in North America and Europe, highlighting major gaps in the literature for taxonomic groups and geographic focus. Elucidating global patterns and identifying knowledge gaps of climate change effects on inland fishes will help managers better anticipate local changes in fish populations and assemblages, resulting in better development of management plans, particularly in systems with little information on climate change effects on fish.


Climate change Documented and projected effects Fish guilds Freshwater fishes Global change Inland fishes Synthesis 



We thank Doug Beard, James Whitney, and the other participants in an expert workshop that formed the foundations for this follow-up project, as well as Jeff Kershner (USGS internal reviewer), anonymous journal reviewers, and journal editors for their constructive manuscript review. Readers can access all data and metadata supporting the analyses and conclusions at Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.


This study was funded by USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The guest editors were blinded to this manuscript and did not handle any part of the review process.

Supplementary material

11160_2017_9476_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (178 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 178 kb)
11160_2017_9476_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (282 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 282 kb)


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland (outside the USA) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bonnie J. E. Myers
    • 1
    Email author
  • Abigail J. Lynch
    • 1
  • David B. Bunnell
    • 2
  • Cindy Chu
    • 3
  • Jeffrey A. Falke
    • 4
  • Ryan P. Kovach
    • 5
  • Trevor J. Krabbenhoft
    • 6
  • Thomas J. Kwak
    • 7
  • Craig P. Paukert
    • 8
  1. 1.National Climate Change and Wildlife Science CenterU.S. Geological Survey (USGS)RestonUSA
  2. 2.Great Lakes Science CenterUSGSAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.Aquatic Research and Monitoring SectionOntario Ministry of Natural Resources and ForestryPeterboroughCanada
  4. 4.Alaska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, USGSUniversity of Alaska FairbanksFairbanksUSA
  5. 5.Northern Rocky Mountain Science CenterUSGSMissoulaUSA
  6. 6.Department of Biological SciencesWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA
  7. 7.North Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, USGSNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  8. 8.Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, USGSUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA

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