Nav: Home

Climate change, species invasions harming popular native fish in Ontario lakes

October 05, 2016

A popular recreational and commercial fish - the native walleye - is at risk of disappearing as invasions of the competitive, predatory smallmouth bass move into Ontario lakes, a new study from York University has found.

Walleye fish populations are diminishing as climate change warms the waters allowing smallmouth bass to move into more northern Ontario lakes, competing for similar food resources and adding walleye young to their menu choices. Smallmouth bass prefer warmer water and the colder northern lakes were historically a deterrent, but that's changing.

The findings by biology Professor Sapna Sharma in York U's Faculty of Science and Thomas Van Zuiden, a recent Master's degree graduate of Sharma's who is now a data manager and statistical analyst in her lab, have important implications. As climate change facilitates smallmouth bass invasions, fisheries in the Great Lakes region are at greater risk of collapse.

"Walleye play an important role in lake-ecosystem dynamics as top predators, and are also popular angling targets for commercial and recreational fisheries," said Van Zuiden. "Climate change poses a serious threat to their survival in Ontario lakes, and our study shows that the invasion of smallmouth bass is exacerbating the problem."

Analyzing data from 722 lakes in Ontario, Van Zuiden and Sharma found that smallmouth bass prefer different environmental conditions than walleye. However, when walleye and smallmouth bass are in the same lakes, there are three times fewer walleye. Under future scenarios of climate change, the researchers predict that the co-occurrence of the two fish species may increase as much as 332 per cent by the year 2070, increasing the vulnerability of walleye populations across the province.

"The future is looking dim for walleye in Ontario lakes under climate change because of both habitat loss and competition from invading smallmouth bass," says Sharma. "As climate change continues to facilitate smallmouth bass invasions into new lakes, Canada's native fisheries, such as walleye and lake trout, are at greater risk of collapse. Our study illustrates the importance of including multiple environmental stressors in statistical models when attempting to understand changes in biodiversity."
-end-
The study, "Examining the effects of climate change and species invasions on Ontario walleye populations: can walleye beat the heat," is published in the October print edition of the journal Diversity and Distributions.

York University is known for championing new ways of thinking that drive teaching and research excellence. Our students receive the education they need to create big ideas that make an impact on the world. Meaningful and sometimes unexpected careers result from cross-discipline programming, innovative course design and diverse experiential learning opportunities. York students and graduates push limits, achieve goals and find solutions to the world's most pressing social challenges, empowered by a strong community that opens minds. York U is an internationally recognized research university - our 11 faculties and 26 research centres have partnerships with 200+ leading universities worldwide. Located in Toronto, York is the third largest university in Canada, with a strong community of 53,000 students, 7,000 faculty and administrative staff, and more than 295,000 alumni.

York University

Related Climate Change Articles:

The black forest and climate change
Silver and Douglas firs could replace Norway spruce in the long run due to their greater resistance to droughts.
For some US counties, climate change will be particularly costly
A highly granular assessment of the impacts of climate change on the US economy suggests that each 1°Celsius increase in temperature will cost 1.2 percent of the country's gross domestic product, on average.
Climate change label leads to climate science acceptance
A new Cornell University study finds that labels matter when it comes to acceptance of climate science.
Was that climate change?
A new four-step 'framework' aims to test the contribution of climate change to record-setting extreme weather events.
It's more than just climate change
Accurately modeling climate change and interactive human factors -- including inequality, consumption, and population -- is essential for the effective science-based policies and measures needed to benefit and sustain current and future generations.
Climate change scientists should think more about sex
Climate change can have a different impact on male and female fish, shellfish and other marine animals, with widespread implications for the future of marine life and the production of seafood.
Climate change prompts Alaska fish to change breeding behavior
A new University of Washington study finds that one of Alaska's most abundant freshwater fish species is altering its breeding patterns in response to climate change, which could impact the ecology of northern lakes that already acutely feel the effects of a changing climate.
Uncertainties related to climate engineering limit its use in curbing climate change
Climate engineering refers to the systematic, large-scale modification of the environment using various climate intervention techniques.
Public holds polarized views about climate change and trust in climate scientists
There are gaping divisions in Americans' views across every dimension of the climate debate, including causes and cures for climate change and trust in climate scientists and their research, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
The psychology behind climate change denial
In a new thesis in psychology, Kirsti Jylhä at Uppsala University has studied the psychology behind climate change denial.

Related Climate Change Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#530 Why Aren't We Dead Yet?
We only notice our immune systems when they aren't working properly, or when they're under attack. How does our immune system understand what bits of us are us, and what bits are invading germs and viruses? How different are human immune systems from the immune systems of other creatures? And is the immune system so often the target of sketchy medical advice? Those questions and more, this week in our conversation with author Idan Ben-Barak about his book "Why Aren't We Dead Yet?: The Survivor’s Guide to the Immune System".